Southeast S.D. Man Was Slain by Police : City, Widow Reach Tentative Pact in Dubose Killing

Times Staff Writer

The city of San Diego has reached a tentative financial settlement with Mary Dubose, who sued the city and eight police officers after her husband was killed last year by police who burst into their house looking for drugs, lawyers said Wednesday.

Both Dubose and her lawyer, James G. Randall of Long Beach, said Wednesday that they could not reveal details of the settlement.

City Atty. John W. Witt said the agreement was “complicated in the sense that there will be a structured settlement,” but declined further comment. Deputy City Atty. James M. Chapin, who handled the case for the city, said only that he hopes to take the matter before the council when it meets Tuesday.

Tommie C. Dubose, 56, was killed March 12, 1988, in the living room of the family’s Southeast San Diego home after police burst through the door. The shooting triggered an outcry from the city’s black leaders, who accused police of shooting unnecessarily.


Secrecy Ordered

Federal Magistrate Irma Gonzalez, who held a meeting Monday at which the settlement was reached, ordered Mary Dubose and Randall to keep details secret because the San Diego City Council must approve the agreement, Randall said.

But Randall also said he did not expect the council to object to the amount. “I think this case was worth substantially more, economically wise,” he said. “But sometimes peace of mind is worth more than dollars in a bank account.”

Mary Dubose said she felt no particular relief about the settlement. “It’s not bringing my husband back,” she said. “If they could bring my husband back, I wouldn’t even care, because money doesn’t matter.”


Tommie Dubose, a civilian instructor working for the Navy who was characterized in his neighborhood as a vocal opponent of drug abuse, was shot during a drug crackdown in which undercover narcotics officers served a number of search warrants, primarily in black and Hispanic areas.

Search Warrant Claims

According to the search warrant obtained by police to enter the Dubose home, an informant had bought illegal drugs at the residence. Police portrayed the home as a known dope house and characterized one of the victim’s sons, Charles Dubose, as a suspected drug offender.

As officers charged through the front door, Tommie Dubose threw a glass of wine into the face of Officer Andy Rios and a struggle began over the control of Rios’ gun, police said. At that point, Officer Carlos Garcia opened fire, shooting Dubose five times, police said.


Four shots hit Dubose in the back, an autopsy revealed.

The district attorney’s office ruled in June, 1988, that the killing was justified because Garcia reasonably believed Dubose had control of Rios’ gun when Garcia shot him.

But the district attorney also concluded the officers did not adequately announce themselves at the door and did not give enough time before rushing in.

Mary Dubose filed suit in July, 1988, saying she wanted a public airing of the case.