Lawsuit – NBC Los Angeles


The family of a Culver City father has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit after a police officer killed him by shooting him in the back as he ran away after a car chase.

The wife and children of Guillermo Medina, along with their lawyer, announced the case on Tuesday, saying Medina was unarmed and posed no imminent threat of death or bodily harm to anyone when he was shot and killed on December 18 last year. Officers also gave him no commands before he was shot, and they knew he was experiencing a mental health crisis, according to the plaintiffs.

“The sudden loss of my husband has completely devastated my family and turned our lives upside down,” Medina’s wife, Adriana, said through tears as she stood next to the couple’s three children, aged 11, 17 and 20 respectively. “I can’t believe that he was. taken away from us when he really needed help. He didn’t deserve to be shot in the back. He didn’t deserve to die on the street.”

The lawsuit claims Adriana Medina called the Culver City Police Department around 1 a.m. on Dec. 18 to report that her husband, who had paranoid schizophrenia, was banging on windows while experiencing a mental health crisis. At the time, Medina was off his medication and distraught, and his wife sought help for him, said family attorney James Simone.

Adriana Medina pushed back on the police’s claim that the officers were called to a domestic violence incident. She said her husband was unarmed and did not have a gun, contrary to what police said at the time he threatened her with a firearm.

Despite knowing he was in crisis, the responding officers approached Medina in a manner that caused him to flee his home and lead police on a car chase, according to Simone.

The suit states that one unnamed officer said he would stay at the home with the family until “the incident has come to a conclusion.” Adriana Medina said that for more than an hour she repeatedly told the officer to use the police radio to inform his colleagues that her husband was in crisis, but he failed to do so.

The chase came to an end when Medina crashed his SUV, disabling the vehicle. That’s when he got out and tried to run away. Surveillance video of the shooting showed Medina fleeing. He didn’t seem to be running at a high speed, although it was unclear what had happened in the previous moments.

Simone said Medina jogged slowly and “worked,” since it was impossible for him to run fast because of spinal fusion surgery. In the video released by the attorney, Medina comes into frame and then quickly falls forward to the sidewalk after being shot. He rolls onto his back with his arms outstretched as officers slowly approach him.

Witnesses said officers did not give Medina any commands before one of them opened fire, shooting him multiple times, Simone said. Instead of providing immediate medical care, the officers handcuffed Medina and left him on the ground for more than five minutes before rendering aid, the attorney said.

Paramedics eventually arrived and tried to save Medina’s life, but he died on the sidewalk.

Medina’s wife said Offers was not the first to notify the family of the man’s death, adding that her children found out about it on the Internet.

“Joshua walked up to me, my youngest, and said, ‘What does it mean when they put a white sheet over you?’ That’s how our baby found out his father was dead, and I had to explain it to him. Culver City PD, you should be ashamed of yourselves,” said Adriana Medina.

The lawsuit also alleges that Culver City and its police department fostered a culture of excessive force by, in part, failing to properly investigate use of force incidents and failing to discipline officers who use excessive force.

The city said it could not comment due to “the pending criminal investigation, as well as pending claims and potential litigation.” The police department noted the shooting is being investigated by the California Department of Justice and the attorney general’s office. Culver City Police Department Sgt. Eddie Baskaron confirmed to NBC4 that the officer who shot Medina has not been suspended.

Baskaron added that the department plans to release “critical incident video” in the coming days, as well as a recording of Adriana Medina’s call to police.

Medina’s family is calling for criminal charges against the officers involved in his murder. They are requesting a jury trial, as well as unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.

His family remembered Medina as a loving, hard-working father who loved his children and had a great sense of humor. He was someone who took his children to school and soccer practice. Despite his bad back, he coached his youngest’s soccer team and was also a referee, all in order to spend time with his children.

Medina cooked for the children and then went to work as a truck driver at night to provide for his family, his wife said.

“He was mentally ill and it wasn’t his fault. He needed help, not death,” said an emotional Adriana Medina.