The family of 17-year-old Robert Scriven, who was shot 14 times and killed by an Escondido police officer Jan. 2, has filed a $20-million wrongful-death claim against the city.

Arlene McHale, the boy’s mother, seeks compensatory and punitive damages “based on the loss of earning capacity, emotional pain and suffering, costs of the minor’s funeral, and punitive damages for the officer’s intentional conduct and/or reckless disregard for human life,” according to the claim, filed late Wednesday by attorney Richard Potack.

Scriven was fatally shot by officer Martin Hewlett after he pursued the teen-ager, who was in a stolen car, then chased him on foot into thick brush in the 3000 block of North Broadway, a rural neighborhood just north of the city limits.

A coroner’s report later concluded that Scriven had ingested methamphetamine before the incident, although Potack maintains that the boy was not under the influence of the drug, also known as crystal, at the time of the confrontation.


Escondido Police Chief Vince Jimno has defended the shooting, saying that Scriven and Hewlett were in a life-and-death struggle for the officer’s handgun and that Hewlett fired 15 rounds from his semiautomatic, 16-shot handgun because he “feared for his life.”

Hewlett has since returned to duty, and the district attorney’s office is still reviewing the case to determine whether any charges should be filed against the officer.

Potack said he expects the city to deny the claim, and is preparing a lawsuit to pursue the matter in court.