Michigan resident David Green recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court “against the city of Mission and three of its police officers.” Why? Well, according to Green, the three police officers named in the lawsuit “fatally shot his mentally ill son” two years ago after allegedly failing “to use de-escalation tactics after he called police Feb. 22, 2016, seeking help for his 38-year-old son, David Green II.” The lawsuit also alleges that the officer’s “excessive force led to his son’s death.”
“Mr. Green calmly explained to the dispatcher that his son was mentally ill and diagnosed with schizophrenia, but was off his medication and making physical threats…and was at that point in the midst of a mental health crisis.”
So if Green notified the dispatcher that his son was mentally ill, why did the officers respond the way they did? For starters, the dispatcher never actually reported Green II’s mental illness to the three officers sent to Green’s home at the Mission mobile home park, according to the lawsuit. Additionally, the lawsuit argues that the officers, Jorge Cabrera, Javier Lara and Sean De La Rosa, never should have been dispatched in the first place. Instead, it argues that proper medical personnel or mental health crisis specialists should have been dispatched to the scene instead.
What happened when the officers arrived at the scene? What prompted them to open fire? The first officer to arrive on the scene, Cabrera, “immediately drew his weapon upon seeing Green II with a machete in hand,” according to the lawsuit. In response, Green II “got into his father’s pickup truck and tried to drive away, at which point Cabrera positioned himself in front of the vehicle…(and) stepped back as the vehicle passed by and fell sideways.”
From there, Green II “struck a tree in the mobile home park, at which point Lara fired four rounds into the truck, striking Green II in the neck.” The lawsuit goes on to state:
“As David sat dying in the vehicle…inexplicably, Officer Lara and Officer De La Rosa approached the vehicle firing their own additional rounds at David, hitting him in the arm and chest. From there, officers dragged his lifeless body from the vehicle, laid him on the grass face down and snapped handcuffs on his limp wrists behind his back.”
How has the city and police department responded to the lawsuit? Well, so far Mission Police Chief Robert Dominguez issued a statement claiming the “officers were acting with the safety of the mobile home park residents in mind.” He added, “Green II tried to run an officer over,” and “believes the officers responded properly following established protocol.” When speaking about the fatal incident, he added:
“It’s unfortunate that situations like this do occur in the policing world and we regret that the incident occurred, but I believe our officers are sometimes placed in situations where they have to take that action.”
As for the three officers? At the moment all of them are still employed. When commenting on the situation, police spokesman Lt. Jody Tittle said, “no disciplinary action was taken. They were cleared by a grand jury,”
Despite the various responses from the police department, Green’s lawsuit alleges that the “city’s law enforcement training policies fail to train officers on limiting the use of excessive force; the proper use of non-lethal, self-defense measures; proper requests for a crisis intervention team officer; and proper knowledge and use of measures to de-escalate a situation involving a mentally unstable individual, among others.”
At the moment, a pretrial hearing has been scheduled for May.