Family of Juan Garcia Files Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Napa County and Sergeant David Ackman for Unprovoked Killing of Garcia During Traffic Stop

Tuesday, 11. May 2021 20:02

OAKLAND, Calif., May 11, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Civil rights law firm Haddad & Sherwin LLP announced today it has filed a federal wrongful death civil rights lawsuit on behalf of its clients the Garcia family against Napa County and Napa County Sheriff’s Sergeant David Ackman. The lawsuit arises from the unprovoked, video-recorded shooting death of Juan Garcia, an unarmed, non-threatening 47-year-old father of three on October 5, 2020, by Sergeant Ackman.

One of Mr. Garcia’s attorneys, Michael Haddad, stated: “This unprovoked killing of an unarmed, non-threatening man, followed by their lack of transparency, is a terrible violation of Mr. Garcia’s and his family’s constitutional rights.”

Another Garcia family attorney, Julia Sherwin, stated, “Sergeant Ackman overreacted and mishandled this situation from the beginning. He jumped out of his car and immediately pointed his gun at Juan, who was no threat. Juan was clearly confused about what the Sergeant wanted from him, given the Sergeant’s complete failure to communicate with him. Then the Sergeant unloaded six bullets at Juan in rapid succession, without any warning. The Sergeant appears to have panicked, and in his panic he stole this devoted father, son, and husband from a family and community that loved him.”

Juan Garcia was a resident of Napa County for more than 25 years and lived in the City of Napa with his partner/wife Eva Lopez and their three sons. Mr. Garcia was a hard-working, loving and devoted family man and father.

On October 5, 2020, Mr. Garcia was returning home from visiting friends who had evacuated from Napa County fires and were staying at a local resort. He got lost on his way home. At approximately 10:11 p.m., Sergeant Ackman pulled Juan Garcia’s vehicle over, allegedly for driving without headlights on. Within 38 seconds of Mr. Garcia exiting his vehicle, Sergeant Ackman shot Mr. Garcia six times, killing Mr. Garcia even though he was unarmed and non-threatening.

The Sheriff’s Department held a viewing of excerpts of bodycam footage on October 14, 2020. The video reveals that Sergeant Ackman exited his vehicle with his gun drawn and immediately pointed it at Mr. Garcia, a very high level of force to use against a non-threatening man suspected of a simple vehicle infraction. Mr. Garcia exited his vehicle with his hands empty, which Sergeant Ackman could clearly see since Mr. Garcia and his vehicle were well illuminated by the headlights of Sergeant Ackman’s patrol vehicle.

Sergeant Ackman chose to use unlawful deadly force against Mr. Garcia, in violation of his duties to ensure that any use of deadly force was both necessary and in response to an immediate threat of death or serious injury. Ackman also failed to give Mr. Garcia a legally required warning before virtually ensuring his death by deadly force. Ackman also failed to evaluate the need for every single shot before firing, appearing to fire six unnecessary shots in a panic. Further, Sergeant Ackman chose not to use his vehicle for cover if he felt threatened by Mr. Garcia, nor to order Mr. Garcia to show his hands or get on the ground, nor to use any less-lethal alternatives to deadly force. This tragic use of deadly force was completely unjustified.

October 6, the day after Sergeant Ackman shot Mr. Garcia, several Napa County employees and agents interrogated Eva Lopez and Mr. Garcia’s mother, only revealing after interrogation that Mr. Garcia was in the hospital and being detained there and not revealing any details of Mr. Garcia’s injuries or the shooting incident. At the hospital, a doctor informed Ms. Lopez that Mr. Garcia was shot multiple times and was unresponsive when he arrived. Mr. Garcia underwent surgeries but was declared brain dead and a doctor advised Ms. Lopez that life support should be removed, as the hospital had done everything possible to save Mr. Garcia.

Napa County Sheriff’s Deputies guarded Mr. Garcia’s body in the hospital, and prohibited Ms. Lopez and other family members from taking last pictures of Mr. Garcia or even using their cell phones in Mr. Garcia’s hospital room. The Sheriff’s office prohibited the family from having more than one person present with Mr. Garcia as he passed, so his parents were only able to see him for approximately 20 minutes before Ms. Lopez would be the only family member there with Mr. Garcia as he passed. He was pronounced dead at 8:35 p.m. on October 6.

Sergeant Ackman used excessive and unjustified force against the unarmed and non-threatening Mr. Garcia. Sheriff Robertson failed to train, monitor and supervise Sergeant Ackman, allowing him to use excessive and unconstitutional force. Sheriff Robertson rejected the family’s requests for information concerning the incident, such as the dash-cam and surveillance video, claiming it was not relevant. Sheriff Robertson also instructed others to refuse to provide information to the Lopez family, stated his intention to delay the investigation until after the Lopez family’s Government Code tort claim was due, and perpetuated the Code of Silence in law enforcement.

Juan Garcia’s family is committed to obtaining justice for him in federal court.

ABOUT HADDAD & SHERWIN LLP.
Founded in 1998 by Michael Haddad and Julia Sherwin, Haddad & Sherwin LLP is an Oakland law firm representing people in serious injury and wrongful death civil rights, police misconduct, and jail misconduct cases. For more information, visit https://haddadandsherwin.com/.

Contact:

Michael Haddad or Julia Sherwin
(office) (510) 452-5500
(Haddad cell) (510) 484-8208 or (Sherwin cell) (510) 484-6051
michael.julia@haddadsherwin.com

Tim Johnson
UPRAISE Marketing + PR for Haddad & Sherwin LLP (cell) (415) 385-9537
Haddad-sherwin@upraisepr.com

Family Statement, Video, and Photos

The incident video is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7ecLBtcQiU

A copy of the federal lawsuit complaint, the earlier-filed Government Code tort claim, a statement from Garcia family members, and some Garcia family photos, are available here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/buw24vkphv6douc/AABpMrLllI0QTdapgYhKqjDqa?dl=0


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