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Family files civil lawsuit against three police agencies over the wrongful death of mentally ill man

Courtesy Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai LLP

The family of Tony Garza, a Yucca Valley resident who was shot and killed by authorities in February, filed a 20-million dollar civil lawsuit Thursday against the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, Riverside County Sheriff's Department and the California Highway Patrol.

 On February 5th, San Bernardino County Deputies were called out to a box trailer fire at the intersection of Indio Avenue and Canterbury Street in Yucca Valley. When they arrived the identified Garza as an arson suspect. Garza fled the scene in his vehicle which led to a high speed pursuit that ended 35 minutes later at the Whitewater cutoff, north of Interstate 10 near Palm Springs. Garza was shot and killed by police which was caught on camera by an anonymous witness.

The family says that Garza suffered from mental illness that, “manifested in part as severe paranoia and fear of law enforcement,” said Rebecca Brown, the attorney representing Garza’s family.

Brown says that in an independent autopsy, it was revealed that Garza was shot 12 times including twice in his back.

Since the shooting occurred in Riverside County, the officer-involved shooting is being investigated by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

In an email to KESQ, the Riverside Sheriff’s Office Media Information Bureau has yet to receive the lawsuit and does not comment on pending litigation.

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Brett Hernandez


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