Man Shot by Police Files Claim for Excessive Force
When Alan Shores was late checking out of his $32 room at the AutoLodge Motel in February, police called to evict him shot him seven times and did not allow paramedics to treat him for 90 minutes.
Last week, the 23-year-old construction worker filed a claim against the city of Pomona, charging he was the victim of excessive force.
Police say Shores appeared to have a gun and a death wish, shouting things such as: “Go ahead and shoot me, you guys! I don’t want to live! I’m not going to prison!”
Even after police fired at least 19 rounds at Shores, they did not allow paramedics to treat him for an hour and half. They say the delay was Shore’s own fault, because he refused to put up his hands.
Shores, who turned out to be unarmed, denies taunting police or claiming to have a weapon, said his attorney, Catherine M. Graham of Claremont.
His claim also accuses the Pomona Police Department and eight officers of false imprisonment and denial of medical attention.
City Atty. Arnold M. Glasman said police “showed amazing restraint under the circumstances. There is no liability and no wrongdoing on the part of the Police Department.”
Glasman said he will recommend that the city reject the claim, setting the stage for a lawsuit that Shores’ lawyer says will demand at least $1 million in damages.
It may take a jury to sort out the facts. But there is little doubt that Shores would not have landed in the hospital in critical condition if he had checked out of his motel room on time.
Various versions of what happened at the motel Feb. 11 are found in Shores’ claim, in police reports and in testimony from a preliminary hearing at which Shores was held for trial on a felony charge of obstructing and threatening officers. The charge was reduced to the misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest. Shores pleaded no contest and on Aug. 2 was credited for serving 42 days in jail and placed on a year of unsupervised probation.
Officer Barry Dolgovin, one of those named in the claim, testified that he was called to the motel after Shores missed the 11 a.m. checkout deadline and refused a motel clerk’s request to leave.
Dolgovin said it was common for police to be called to help evict motel guests who had overstayed. “It’s defrauding an innkeeper. It’s a crime for them to stay there past that time period,” he said. “It’s also a trespass.”
When he went to the motel to investigate about 12:30 p.m., Dolgovin said, he found Shores in Room 12. Loud music was blaring from the television set. He said he saw Shores through a window, “walking back and forth . . . at a very rapid pace. He was yelling and screaming incoherently; his eyes were wide open, and he appeared to be in my opinion under the influence of a drug.”
Dolgovin said he pounded on the door, and Shores said: “I’m not leaving. I’m not coming out. You’re not taking me.”
The officer said he spotted a three- to four-foot-long wooden dowel on the bed, and feared it “could possibly be used as a weapon.” So he called for assistance.
Dolgovin, accompanied by three other officers, unlocked the door and struggled to push it open. Dolgovin said he thought the room had been barricaded. (Attorney Graham said the “barricade” was actually made up of the bags that Shores had packed in preparing to check out.)
The officers forced their way in, Dolgovin said, and found Shores crouched at a back corner of the room. Next to a walk-in closet, with a black leather jacket over his hands, Shore was in “what appeared to be a shooting position, as if he had a weapon,” Dolgovin said. “All the officers at the same time began to yell: ‘He has a gun! He has a gun!’ ”
One officer ran for cover in the bathroom; the three others fled outside. Dolgovin testified that Shores seemed to be pointing a weapon at one of the officers who was kneeling near the motel room’s open door.
The police officers say they pleaded with Shores to drop the gun that they believed was hidden under a jacket covering his hands. But when he appeared to lift his arms as if to fire, the officers starting shooting.
One of the bullets knocked out the television set. Another ricocheted into the foot of an officer, but he was not injured. Seven bullets hit Shores in the stomach, left leg, right shoulder, hand and chest.
Dolgovin said Shores kept his hands hidden even after he was wounded, and told officers “that he had a handgun, that he wanted to die, that he was wanted for murder in Oklahoma.”
For 90 minutes, police said, they pleaded with Shores to put down his weapon. Finally, they said, Shores showed his hands, and they allowed paramedics to take him to the hospital, where he arrived in critical condition.
Graham said the police version is “a fabrication.” She said Shores denies ever telling police that he had a gun or asking them to shoot him.
There is no evidence that Shores was wanted on murder charges. However, after the shooting, Pomona police arrested Shores on Oklahoma charges.
His defense attorney, Joe Borges, said Shores was on probation for an Oklahoma City grand larceny charge involving a wallet he found and did not return. He also was facing a marijuana possession charge. Officials issued a felony warrant for bail-jumping when he left the state before the case went to trial.
Borges said all the charges against Shores in Oklahoma were resolved recently with the payment of $250 in court costs.
Borges, who defended Shores on the resisting arrest charge in Pomona, said Shores disagrees with the official version of what happened at the motel.
Borges said his client told him that police opened fire on him as soon as they entered the room. Borges said Shores was putting on his leather jacket when he was first shot. Wounded, Shores could not extract his hands from the jacket to show police he didn’t have a weapon, Borges said.
Police found no weapon in the room, but did find a black comb that Shores could have been holding under his jacket.
In the claim filed with the city clerk, Graham says Shores was left on the floor “fading in and out of consciousness.” The claim says “although paramedics had been summoned and were waiting in the parking lot of the motel ready to render medical attention to claimant and transport him to the hospital, they were not allowed access.”
Graham said Shores lost part of a finger and is confined to a wheelchair most of the time. A surgical device has been implanted in his shattered left leg that allows him to walk short distances with crutches, she said. He also underwent a colostomy.
Shores had come to Pomona about a year before the shooting and had been staying most of the time with a sister, Graham said. She said he had checked into a motel for a few days to give his sister and her family some time by themselves.
In the claim, Shores accuses Pomona police of “falsely imprisoning” him on the Oklahoma charges for 38 days, thereby jeopardizing his medical recovery, even though Oklahoma authorities twice declined to extradite him, because of his medical condition.
Pomona Police Chief Lloyd Wood said he has reviewed the shooting incident and found no violation of departmental policy or any reason to discipline officers.
Shores could not be reached for comment. His lawyer said he was on a bus, bound for his mother’s house in Arizona.