About a dozen people gathered in front of San Diego police headquarters Tuesday morning to denounce a fatal Gaslamp Quarter shooting and announce the filing of a wrongful death claim against the city and the officers involved.
Protesters with United Against Police Terror San Diego rallied for Lamontez Jones, 39, who was shot several times by Officers Scott Thompson and Gregory Lindstrom in a confrontation Oct. 20.
Police said Jones aimed a replica handgun at the officers and, after being shot, fell to the pavement and aimed the gun again — prompting them to fire.
The officers did not turn on their body cameras before the shooting because events unfolded too swiftly and the officers’ priority was to protect their own safety and that of the public, Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said.
The district attorney’s office found that the shooting was legally justified, as both officers believed the handgun Jones aimed at Thompson was real and that he was about to fire. Thompson fired two rounds at Jones and Lindstrom fired seven.
The claim, a legal step required before filing a lawsuit against the government, was filed by the Los Angeles law firm of James P. Segall-Gutierrez on behalf of Jones’ mother, Victoria Jones. It alleges wrongful death, negligence, infliction of emotional distress and other violations by the city, the police department and the two officers. The amount of damages was not specified, but the claim said “the totals will exceed several million dollars.”
“I would just like to know what initiated them to go after my son,” Victoria Jones said in a telephone interview from her home in Virginia on Tuesday. “My biggest concern is, they didn’t have their body cameras [turned] on.... They want me to accept what they want to tell me.”
San Diego police have given her reports on the shooting, and she said they told her they had pulled security video from businesses overlooking the spot where the incident occurred. “They told me the only way I could see them is if I hire a lawyer and file a complaint. So that’s what I’m doing,” she said.
She said that her son had served time after pleading guilty to manslaughter in the death of his roommate in Virginia, adding that he had acted in self-defense and been pressured into accepting a plea deal. San Diego police said Jones was wanted on a Virginia warrant for robbery at the time of his death.
According to police, the officers saw Jones run into traffic and he refused to stop and identify himself. As they were following him down the street, they said, he turned toward Thompson suddenly with a handgun apparently pulled from his backpack.
“I know my son pulled out a fake gun, and he answered for that,” his mother said. Now, she said, she wants the officers to answer for their actions.
Repard writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.