The parents of a Lompoc transgender man filed a federal lawsuit last month over the fatal officer-involved shooting of their son, saying police used excessive force during the March 28 incident.
Dionne Espinoza and Jaime Ruiz sued the city and three Lompoc Police officers involved in the death of 26-year-old Krys Brandon Ruiz, accusing the officers of corralling and then shooting Ruiz in a vacant lot near the intersection of West Walnut Avenue and North H Street. The suit was filed Oct. 29 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
In addition, the parents accuse officers Julio Carrillo-Bueno, Mauricio Calderon, and Cpl. Andrew White of denying Ruiz medical care when he was struck by several bullets after charging police with a kitchen knife shortly after 8 p.m.
“At all times relevant, no bystander was in the immediate vicinity and none of the Defendant-officers were hemmed in, or unable, or incapable of quickly moving in one of several directions away from the approaching decedent, who was shot while he was at least 20-25 feet away from the nearest officer, and who was not armed with a firearm,” according to the lawsuit. “[The defendants] did not timely summon medical care or permit medical personnel to treat [Ruiz].”
Lompoc police officers’ fatal shooting of a 26-year-old man in March was ruled a justifiable homicide by the Santa Barbara County District Att…
In addition to the officers, the lawsuit includes Does 1-10, who are listed as unknown defendants.
The nine-count lawsuit against the defendants includes complaints for unlawful detention, unconstitutional policies or practices, battery, negligence, denial of due process, failure to train and a violation of the Bane Act, or civil rights violations.
The plaintiffs seek compensation for damages resulting from wrongful death, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, court costs and loss of financial support, and demand a jury trial.
Lompoc officials were served a copy of the lawsuit, which is being handled by the city attorney’s office. Officials won't comment on pending litigation matters, according to spokeswoman Samantha Scroggin.
Prior to filing the lawsuit, Espinoza and Ruiz filed “timely and comprehensive” claims for damages with the city on April 19, although their claims were rejected on April 29, court records show.
In a letter dated April 7, attorney Bill Schmidt, who represents the parents, requested the state Attorney General’s Office investigate the officer-involved shooting under AB 1506, a new law that went into effect July 1 and requires them to do so. Officials were “unable to provide legal advice or analysis” on the case, according to the AG's Office on April 29.
In its official report released on Aug. 26, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office cleared the three officers of any criminal wrongdoing after finding the shooting death was justified.
Calderon and White each fired four bullets, but only three struck Ruiz, who intended to commit “suicide by cop,” according to the report, adding that officers knew Ruiz from previous encounters, but were unaware they shot him.
The incident began at about 8 p.m. after Ruiz allegedly dialed 911 to report a man with a gun and wearing a mask in the alley next to the 100 block of North H Street, in order to draw police to him.
Lompoc Police released dashcam footage of the incident, without audio, on May 13 that showed Carrillo-Bueno slowly following Ruiz as he walked down the alley.
“At no time did Carrillo see a gun on the person, in the hands, or vicinity of [Ruiz],” according to the lawsuit.
The video shows Ruiz disappearing into nearby bushes, where investigators said he ignored officers' verbal commands seconds before charging Calderon.
Calderon fired his department-issued AR-15 once, and saw Ruiz flinch, but kept shooting until he fell, according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs accuse White of escalating the unlawful detention by shouting verbal commands and aiming his cruiser’s spotlight toward Ruiz.
“White and Calderon failed to give [Ruiz] a warning that deadly force would be used prior to shooting,” according to the lawsuit. “The tactics were inappropriate and there were less than lethal force options available.”
The defendants are required to respond to the lawsuit by Dec. 23, according to court records.