Police shooting results in wrongful death claim. Defense. Santa Clara County.

Summary

Police shoot a murder suspect, believing him to be armed.

The Case

  • Case Name: Jacquez v. City of San Jose, Jacob Morris
  • Court and Case Number: Northern District of California 16 -cv- 05330 NC
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Monday, September 10, 2018
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, October 11, 2016
  • Type of Action: Civil Rights, Police Shooting, Wrongful Death, Highlighted Verdicts
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Nathanael Cousins
  • Plaintiffs:
    Gloria Jacquez
    R.J. through his guardian ad litem, Monica Mendoza
    Chandra Jacquez, individually and as successor-in-interest to Richard Jacquez, deceased.
  • Defendants:
    City of San Jose and Jacob Morris
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: Defense verdict.
  • Economic Damages:

    Case was bifurcated; liability was tried first.

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Case was bifurcated; liability was tried first.

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 5 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 4 hours.
  • Jury Polls: Unanimous.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: None.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Law Office of John Burris by John Burris and Benjamin Nisenbaum, Oakland. (For Gloria Jacquez and R.J.)

    The Law Offices of Dale K. Galipo by Dale Galipo, Woodland Hills. (For Chandra Jacquez.)

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Office of the City Attorney, City of San Jose by Christian B. Nielsen and Maren J. Clouse. (For San Jose and Jacob Morrisy.)

The Experts

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Roger Clark, police procedures, Santee.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Thomas Frazier, police procedures.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    San Jose police MERGE unit officer Jacob Morris shot murder suspect Richard Jacquez on August 17, 2015. Jacquez was reportedly armed with the same machine pistol he had used days earlier in the murder for which he was wanted, and planned to kill a female acquaintance who he believed knew too much.

    Officers also knew that another suspect in the murder, Matthew Castillo, pulled a gun on San Jose police when they tried to arrest him the day before. Jacquez and Castillo were both seen on video chasing the murder victim with guns while a third, masked accomplice hit him with a spiked ball on a chain. MERGE officers covertly tailed Jacquez for hours on August 17, awaiting an opportunity to take him safely into custody, but he eventually realized he was being followed and tried to flee.

    Audio recordings played at trial demonstrated one minute elapsed from when the pursuit began to when shots were fired. In that minute, Morris testified, Jacquez sped through rush hour traffic into a residential neighborhood and jumped out of the car he’d been driving, causing Morris to strike him with his police car, then ran down the sidewalk and up to the door of a home, ignoring commands to stop. Morris testified he shot Jacquez to prevent him entering the home and harming residents who might be inside.

    Lawyers on behalf of Jacquez’s family presented testimony from the woman Jacquez reportedly planned to murder, who police described as an unwitting hostage. She testified she did not hear Morris warn Jacquez before shooting him and that Jacquez had stepped away from the door when he was shot.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That Officer Morris used excessive and unreasonable force when he shot an unarmed man who was not resisting arrest and may have been surrendering.

    Plaintiffs’ attorneys questioned Morris’s account and suggested he should have realized that Jacquez was not actually armed when he fled, and argued to jurors that Morris overreacted.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That decedent appeared to be armed and was attempting entry into a residence when he was shot.

    Attorneys from the San Jose City Attorney’s Office countered that events happened very quickly and that plaintiffs’ efforts to cast doubt on Morris’s testimony were not supported by physical evidence.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Death of family member.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $500,000
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $15,000

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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