The family of a man shot to death last June by Glendale police who mistook a TV remote control he was holding for a handgun has filed a $5-million lawsuit against the city.
In the suit filed last week, Javier G. Alvarado's common-law widow and three children allege that police wrongfully and negligently killed him and violated his civil rights. The lawsuit, which seeks $5 million in damages and $5,000 for funeral expenses, also claims that the family suffered emotional distress.
Police said Alvarado was waving a metal object at passers-by at a downtown intersection June 1. They say three officers repeatedly ordered him to drop what they thought was a weapon and that they opened fire after he did not. He was shot at least 11 times. Police discovered the object in his hand was a remote control device, not a gun.
An autopsy found traces of a hallucinogenic drug in Alvarado's blood. An investigation by the county district attorney's office absolved police of wrongdoing in the shooting. However, federal authorities are looking at the incident for possible civil-rights violations.
Alvarado's relatives and friends maintain that the shooting could have been avoided if the officers had spoken to Alvarado in Spanish. Alvarado was a recent immigrant to Glendale from Mexico and could speak little English, they say.