The City Council has rejected a claim for damages from a man shot by a police officer in March, setting up a potential lawsuit.
Ricardo Castillo, 28, of Friant was shot twice by Chowchilla police Sgt. Jeff Palmer after an attempted traffic stop and foot pursuit, according to the claim from a lawyer representing Castillo. The man was struck in the left hand and lower left leg.
The Madera County District Attorney’s Office has called the shooting “justified” and is pursuing a number of criminal charges against Castillo.
Castillo claims he was unarmed when he was shot, but in a news release issued March 2, the Chowchilla Police Department stated: “Castillo was armed with a knife and refused orders from officers to drop the knife.”
Police also said they later found a firearm in Castillo’s vehicle.
The claim sought unspecified damages, saying Castillo’s injuries – including broken bones, blood loss and nerve damage – will need ongoing medical attention, according to the document from David Milligan, a Fresno-based lawyer representing Castillo. The claim alleges that the officer used excessive force and that the city was negligent in its hiring and supervision of the officer.
Milligan could not be reached for comment. The council voted Tuesday to reject the claim.
Palmer was placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation by the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, as is routine in officer-involved shootings. Palmer returned to duty after the completion of the investigation, Chowchilla police Chief David Riviere confirmed.
Lt. Bill Ward, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said the investigation was completed and turned over to the District Attorney’s Office in March.
I FEEL CONFIDENT IN THIS CASE THAT WE WILL BE SUCCESSFUL IN OUR PROSECUTION, WHICH TELLS ME, I DON’T THINK (CASTILLO’S) LEFT WITH ANY CASE AGAINST THE POLICE.
Madera County District Attorney David Linn
Madera County District Attorney David Linn said the officer was cleared to return to work in April, after the completion of his office’s investigation. Linn also said Castillo was later found to have a gun in his car.
“I feel confident in this case that we will be successful in our prosecution,” Linn said, “which tells me, I don’t think (Castillo’s) left with any case against the police.”
Castillo has been charged with recklessly evading police, being a felon in possession of a firearm, interfering with an officer and other charges. He has pleaded not guilty.
The incident in question was reported at 4:07 p.m. March 1 after officers were involved in a motor vehicle pursuit that ended with the suspect vehicle crashing into a home in the area of South Third Street and Mariposa Avenue, according to a Chowchilla police news release.
Castillo and a passenger in the vehicle left the car and officers began to chase them on foot, officers said.
The claim for damages alleges that Castillo was crouching between two homes and put his hands up after being ordered to do so by the officer. Milligan argues that Castillo posed no threat with his hands in the air, holding a cigarette lighter and “possibly a cigarette” when he was shot.
Castillo was taken by ambulance to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno. No officers were injured during the incident.
|Chowchilla News Day
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