Cruz v. City of Anaheim

In 2009, a confidential informant told Anaheim police officer Stauber that Cruz was a gang member who sold methamphetamine and carried a gun. Stauber determined that Cruz had prior convictions including a felony involving a firearm. Later, the informant told Stauber where Cruz was, what his vehicle looked like, that he was armed and carried in his waistband, and that he had stated that “he was not going back to prison.” Stauber notified other officers, who converged on Cruz’s location. Officers noticed that Cruz’s vehicle had a broken tail light, executed a traffic stop, and surrounded him in a parking lot. Cruz attempted to escape, backing his SUV into a patrol car, but eventually stopped. The officers emerged with weapons drawn and shouted for Cruz to get on the ground as he was emerging from the vehicle. According to four officers, he ignored their commands and reached for his waistband. Fearing that he was reaching for a gun, five officers fired 20 shots. A bystander witnessed most of the event from the other side of Cruz’s vehicle, but didn’t see whether Cruz reached for his waistband. After they ceased firing, the officers approached to find Cruz’s body tangled in and hanging from his seatbelt. Cutting the body loose, they found no weapon, but a loaded nine-millimeter was later recovered from the passenger seat. Cruz’s relatives sued. The district court granted defendants summary judgment, finding that plaintiffs had not presented anything to contest the officers’ version of events. The Ninth Circuit reversed, except as to one officer, noting “curious and material factual discrepancies.” View "Cruz v. City of Anaheim" on Justia Law