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Family of Man Killed by Police Sues for $25 Million

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The family of a man shot to death by Oxnard police last year is seeking $25 million in damages from the city of Oxnard and the officers involved, alleging in a federal lawsuit that he was illegally gunned down.

Lamon and Barbara Partee, the parents of Nicholas Partee, allege that four Oxnard police officers acted recklessly and had no legal grounds to kill their son Oct. 1.

The city is named as a co-defendant because police officials failed in their duty to properly train and supervise the officers, resulting in Partee’s death, the suit alleges.

Nicholas Partee’s estranged wife, Lisa Marie Partee, and the couple’s two children are also plaintiffs in the action, filed recently in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

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Oxnard Police Chief Harold Hurtt declined comment on the suit and said that other members of his department could not discuss the pending litigation.

But authorities maintained last year that Nicholas Partee, a 35-year-old Oxnard construction worker, was shot several times by officers when he pointed a gun at them after a high-speed chase.

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The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department conducted an investigation of the shooting because it occurred in the sheriff’s jurisdiction. The findings were turned over to the district attorney’s office, said Sgt. Mike Barnes of the major crimes division.

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More than 10 months after the shooting, however, county prosecutors have yet to report on whether the shooting was justified.

By contrast, the agency took less than three months to investigate and issue a report on a fatal shooting in April by Oxnard police.

Both Barnes and Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. Kevin McGee declined to comment on findings in the Partee investigation, including whether Partee fired a .22-caliber handgun recovered from his car.

The investigation is taking no longer than usual in a complex case, McGee said.

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The prosecutor declined further comment until the district attorney’s findings are made public in about two weeks.

“When you see the report, it will be fairly evident why it took longer to complete,” McGee said.

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Oxnard police shot and killed Nicholas Partee following a late-evening chase that began in southeast Oxnard and ended on a quiet Camarillo street. Before the chase, Partee’s wife had called officers to her home in Oxnard because her husband had arrived, violating a court restraining order, authorities said.

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When police approached Partee at a nearby convenience store, he fled and four Oxnard patrol cars chased him to Camarillo, police said.

According to the lawsuit, Partee then lost control of his vehicle and it spun to a stop on Oak Street.

There the officers fired their pistols more than 15 times, killing Partee, the complaint says.

It does not say how many times he was struck or which officers fired the fatal shots.

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Nicholas Partee posed no threat to the officers, the complaint alleges.

But police last year said that Partee pointed a gun at officers and they shot him in self defense. Authorities would not say whether Partee fired his gun at the officers or whether he ever left his vehicle.

Hurtt said Tuesday that the four officers were placed on paid leave after the shooting, but are all back on active duty.

The officers are Terry Burr, Chris Orsini, Roger Sonsini and James Stallings.

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