Parolee files claim against San Bernardino County after deputies allegedly shot him as he ran away

Deputies chased a parolee outside a Twentynine Palms casino last month before allegedly shooting him.
Deputies chased a parolee outside a Twentynine Palms casino last month before allegedly shooting him several times. San Bernardino County now faces a potential lawsuit.
(Los Angeles Times)

A parolee in San Bernardino County has filed a claim against the county after he was shot several times as he was running away from deputies, he said.

Attorneys Jim Terrell and Sharon Brunner, who are representing 31-year-old Joseph McLaughlin, filed the $10-million claim against the county, a step that precedes a lawsuit, on Nov. 23, according to the Associated Press. The county has 45 days to respond.

According to reporting by the San Bernardino Sun, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputies Kyle Smit and Adan Ochoa were chasing McLaughlin after they saw him leave the Tortoise Rock Casino in Twentynine Palms. They attempted to detain him on an arrest warrant for parole violation, the Sun reported.


Video and audio footage from the Oct. 23 incident shows McLaughlin running away and at one point stopping to pick up a rock. He makes a throwing motion toward one of the deputies before continuing to run.

“Drop the rock,” the deputy tells him just before firing several shots. McLaughlin is seen stumbling to the ground.

“Come on man, why’d you do that?” McLaughlin asks.

“Why’d you pick up a rock?” the deputy responds.

“Sorry,” McLaughlin apologizes.

The audio recording captures McLaughlin repeatedly asking why he was shot and saying the rock wasn’t a weapon.

“Yeah it is, it could f—ing kill me,” one deputy responds.

“I wasn’t going to throw it at you; you didn’t have to shoot me,” McLaughlin says.

One of the deputies asks him where he was shot and if he can walk, to which he responds “Yes.”

McLaughlin was charged with assault on a peace officer after the incident. He has burglary convictions in San Bernardino and Kern counties.

Brunner and Terrell are arguing that McLaughlin didn’t throw the rock and said the deputies did not provide him with medical aid in a timely manner and moved him from where he was shot, potentially causing more injuries, according to the Sun.

“Mr. McLaughlin has been overcharged in an effort to cause distraction to the real failings of the deputies,” Brunner told the Sun. “Mr. McLaughlin, by all accounts, could be dead given the seven or more shots fired by Deputy Smit.”

Representatives for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and the district attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. David Wert, a spokesman for San Bernardino County said “the county will examine the claim and act in the public’s best interests.”

The Associated Press Contributed to this report.