Saturday, February 21, 2015

Keep Paying Through the Nose, Eureka

You can demand equal enforcement of the law where the guilty are sanctioned equally or you can grant privileged impunity to the criminal where everyone "pays through the nose" equally. It's your choice. You can pay in more innocent lives or you can pay in money.

Case in point is what the Times-Standard printed in today's paper (Saturday 21, 2015) about the Eureka Police killing of Tommy McClain by Will Houston:  McClain’s parents to file suit against Eureka, police after fatal shooting. 
The family of the 22-year-old Eureka man fatally shot by a Eureka police officer last year is planning to file a $10 million claim for a wrongful death lawsuit next week in federal court against the city of Eureka and involved police officers.

Thomas McClain was shot three times by Officer Stephen Linfoot in the front yard of his residence on the 1600 block of Allard Avenue during the early morning hours of Sept. 17. The incident began after a passing police officer saw McClain pull out what was later determined to be a black Walther PPQ replica BB gun from his waistband, cycle the cylinder, and place it back in his waistband, Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills said during an October press conference.

When EPD Sgt. Brian Stephens told McClain he knew he had a gun and stated he would shoot him if he reached for it, McClain dropped his hands and grabbed for the gun “for unknown reasons,” Mills said at the press conference. Officer Linfoot fired seven shots, with three bullets striking McClain in the head, buttocks, and once in the arm, also piercing through his chest. McClain was taken to St. Joseph Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The replica BB handgun was found to be unloaded at the time of McClain’s death. Following a two-month investigation by the multi-agency Humboldt County Critical Incident Response Team, the shooting was deemed a justified homicide by the county District Attorney’s Office in November, with no charges being filed against the officers.

“We only charge criminal cases if there is evidence that leads us to believe that a crime was committed,” then-District Attorney Paul Gallegos said on Nov. 21. “There was evidence of a terrible loss to this family, but not that a crime was committed — not every loss is a crime.”

McClain’s family has been open about their mistrust of the county’s investigation, and hired Woodland Hills attorney Dale Galipo to file a lawsuit. The suit is being filed against the city of Eureka, Linfoot, Stephens and other unnamed officers, according to a press release from Galipo’s office.

“I think the family, based on the information they have, they feel that this shooting was unjustified, but they are also concerned about the national problem we have now with police officers using destructive force,” Galipo said. “It’s very important for them that they get justice for their son. They don’t want to see this happen to someone else’s son. That’s their main motivation going forward with this lawsuit. They’re hoping that there will be some accountability for the officer or officers.”

Mills said he had no comment and that he had not been notified that any lawsuit had been filed as of Friday afternoon. Eureka City Attorney Cyndy Day-Wilson was out of the office on Friday and was unavailable for comment.

A press release issued by Galipo’s office states the lawsuit filed by McClain’s parents, Jeanne Barragan and Lance McClain, seeks $10 million dollars in monetary damages.

“Although witnesses claim that more than one officer may have fired during the incident, at this time this office can only confirm that Officer Linfoot discharged his weapon,” the release states. “At the time of the shooting, Thomas McClain had his hands up and did not pose an immediate risk of death or serious bodily injury to any person.”

A six-member Community Shooting Review Board that was created by Mills to determine whether Eureka police officers had acted within the police department’s policies in the fatal have determined unanimously that the officers had acted within the department’s policies, Mills said during a Eureka City Council meeting this Tuesday. The board included 4th Ward Councilwoman Melinda Ciarabellini, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Linda Atkins, the now retired Humboldt County Coroner Dave Parris, Police Officers Association President Josh Siipola, attorney Elan Firpo and EPD Cpt. Steve Watson.

Galipo has a history in Eureka, being one of two attorneys who helped the family of 26-year-old Martin Frederick Cotton II win a more than $4.5 million civil jury verdict in a wrongful death case against the city of Eureka in 2011.

Cotton died on Aug. 9, 2007, of a subdural hematoma just hours after being involved in several altercations at the Eureka Rescue Mission, the last of which involved EPD officers. Cotton died after he was found breathing shallowly in a holding cell in the Humboldt County jail.

Galipo said his office plans to file a claim this coming Monday, with the city and the officers being given 45 days to either accept or reject the claims. Should they reject the claims or not respond to them within 45 days, Galipo said they can file a federal lawsuit.

“As soon as they reject the claim, we can file the federal lawsuit,” he said. “... 99.9 percent of the time, they reject the claim.”

Will Houston can be reached at 707-441-0504.  [Emphasis mine.]
 It is worth noting that what EPD Sgt. Brian Stephens said he told McClain, "he knew he had a gun" was NOT true. He did not have a gun, he had a toy. So, Stephens did not know or see a gun at the time he says he made the statement. It is, therefore, reasonable to conclude Stephen's statement, "for unknown reasons he dropped his hands and grabbed for the gun," is a lie. Dropping one's hands is not the same thing as "reaching" for grabbing for something that is not there. He couldn't grab for a gun. He did not have one. Whatever those cops "thought" was meaningless to reality. Dropping one's hands for a non-existent weapon is NOT a threat to anyone. Pulling a toy from his waistband and actually pointing it at someone as if to shoot them is as different matter. Killing someone, shooting them, for doing what you are told, to take the gun out of your waistband and place it on the ground, is murder.

Additionally, it should be noted from previous Times-Standard reporting, Linfoot was not present when Stephens says he made his threat to Tommy McClain. Moreover, it was NOT Brian Stephens that shot Tommy McClain, therefore, his statement about the "gun" is irrelevant regarding the justification of the shooting. Chief Andrew Mill's ever-changing accounts of what ostensibly took place flat doesn't hold up under objective scrutiny.

The REAL crime, however, is the one the District Attorney Paul Gallegos committed when he grant the Eureka Police Department blanket impunity for murder. Brian Stephens and Stephen Linfoot et. al.'s crimes were, more pointedly, committed against the Tommy McClain family. Paul Gallego's crime is most pointedly committed against the people that live and work in Eureka. He has effectively imposed a regime of wanton impunity that grants license to mob rule.

There is additional information on Facebook's Justice for Tommy McClain.

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