San Jose: Suit filed in police shooting of unarmed man



SAN JOSE — The family of a man killed in a police shooting last year is suing the San Jose Police Department, its officers and the city for alleged civil rights violations.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Jose, alleges officers used “wrongful, unreasonable and excessive force” against 33-year-old Jacob Dominguez, of San Jose, during a traffic stop near White and Penitencia roads on the night of Sept. 15.

Dominguez was “never a lethal threat to the police officers or anyone else” and “never threatened the use of force on himself or another,” according to the 10-page suit.

“Jacob A. Dominguez had his hands raised above the steering wheel when a San Jose police officer put one bullet through the driver’s side window into the left side jaw area of (Dominguez),” the lawsuit states.

That account stands in stark contrast to one offered by police Chief Eddie Garcia shortly after the shooting. Garcia said Dominguez was wanted in connection with a 10-day “crime spree,” including a drive-by shooting and armed robbery, and yelled at Officer Mike Pina to shoot him as he reached for the floorboard of his Kia Sorento.

“We had to make sure this crime spree ended. It’s unfortunate it ended in tragic circumstances,” Garcia said at a news conference on Sept. 18.

Police said they found crystal methamphetamine but no gun in Dominguez’s vehicle.

City Attorney Rick Doyle did not immediately return a call for comment on the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.

The San Jose-based attorney for Dominguez’s family, John Kevin Crowley, said the allegations laid out in the lawsuit are based on information that has been shared with him about the shooting. He acknowledged that many more facts remain to be gathered.

“It will come down to whether or not the use of deadly force at that time was justified,” Crowley said. “Was the officer exposed to imminent threat? That’s the question.”

Check back for updates.



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