The mother of a 33-year-old Newark man shot and killed by Danville police at the end of a police pursuit in November of last year is suing the town, county and the deputy who opened fire on her son – alleging that Laudemer Arboleda’s civil rights were violated when he died in a hail of police gunfire that day.
The suit, brought by Oakland attorney John Burris and filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California of behalf of Jeannie Atienza, Arboleda’s mother, names Deputy Andrew Hall as a defendant. It was Hall, the suit alleges, who opened fire on the Newark man after police said Arboleda allegedly steered his car toward the deputy at the intersection of Front Street and Diablo Road on Nov. 3.
Atienza’s lawyer contends the Newark man posed no threat to officers and was merely attempting to drive slowly away when he was was hit and killed by police gunfire.
Events leading up to the shooting vary widely. Danville police have said they were called out to check on reports from neighbors of a young man approaching local homes with bags of unknown contents and pursued Arboleda’s car when he drove away as they attempted to contact him. Atienza’s lawyer, on the other hand, contends that police followed Arboleda for no reason and fired on him as he attempted to slowly drive away.
“The defendant officers’ actions were excessive and unreasonable,” the complaint contends. “… especially because decedent was unarmed and not suspected of any crime at the time he was (pursued) and gunned down. Decedent was forced to endure conscious pain and suffering from the deadly wound caused by defendant officer’s conduct.”
Town officials and the county sheriff’s office, which provides contracted police services to Danville and other local towns, declined to comment on the suit, saying they had yet to see it.
The complaint further contests the police version of events, saying: “When officers arrived, they saw Mr. Arboleda inside of his car, not committing any crime or infraction. For unknown reasons, officers pursued Mr. Arboleda as he drove away, even though he was not suspected of committing any crime or infraction.”
“In fear for his life, Mr. Arboleda continued to drive away from the officers,” the complaint reads. “As Mr. Arboleda slowly drove through the intersection, Danville police officer Andrew Hall inexplicably opened fire on Mr. Arboleda, by shooting into the moving car, in the middle of a heavily populated intersection, on a Saturday afternoon.”
Arboleda’s car veered “out of control” and struck other cars in the intersection that day. At least one witness has said they were within feet of the shooting and witnessed the incident. To date, there has been no mention of bags of “white powder” reportedly jettisoned from Arboleda’s car during the chase/escape.
Arboleda’s mother requested a jury trial in her son’s civil rights suit. Damages remain unspecified.
The shooting was Danville’s first officer-involved shooting since August 2001.