The mother of Laudemer Arboleda, who was fatally shot by a Danville police officer at the end of a short pursuit back in November of last year, has filed a wrongful-death suit against the town of Danville in federal court alleging civil rights violations in the officer-involved shooting.
Filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Monday by the Law Offices of John L. Burris, the suit on behalf of Arboleda’s mother Jeannie Atienza names the town of Danville, Contra Costa County and sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Hall as defendants.
The suit contests the Danville Police Department's account of Arboleda’s death, claiming that Danville police followed the 33-year-old Newark man without justification and fired upon him unnecessarily as he attempted to slowly drive away from officers responding to a suspicious person report in a neighborhood near downtown.
“The defendant officers’ actions were excessive and unreasonable, especially because decedent was unarmed and not suspected of any crime at the time he was (pursued) and gunned down. Decedent was forced to endure conscious pain and suffering from the deadly wound caused by defendant officer’s conduct,” the complaint states.
Danville town officials declined to offer comment on the lawsuit, with city attorney Rob Ewing telling DanvilleSanRamon.com that the town had not yet been served with a copy of the civil complaint. Officials from the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office -- with which the town of Danville contracts for police services -- later added that they have also not received a copy of the lawsuit as of Thursday.
Arboleda was killed on Nov. 3, 2018 at the intersection of Front Street and Diablo Road, after Danville police claim the man attempted to drive at and hit officers with his car. Danville police further say that prior to the shooting they had received reports from a resident stating suspicious person -- later identified as Arboleda -- was in their neighborhood walking up to houses with bags in hand.
The complaint contests the police account, claiming: “Police received no reports of criminal activity related to the unknown man. When officers arrived, they saw Mr. Arboleda inside of his car, not committing any crime or infraction. For unknown reasons, officers pursued Mr. Arboleda as he drove away, even though he was not suspected of committing any crime or infraction.”
“In fear for his life, Mr. Arboleda continued to drive away from the officers,” the complaint continued. “As Mr. Arboleda slowly drove through the intersection, Danville police officer Andrew Hall inexplicably opened fire on Mr. Arboleda, by shooting into the moving car, in the middle of a heavily populated intersection, on a Saturday afternoon.”
The claim further added that after Arboleda was shot, his vehicle careened “out of control” and struck multiple cars along the intersection.
Previously, the family's attorney also alleged that Arboleda’s skin color -- he was of Filipino descent -- may have factored into Hall’s decision to use lethal force, and that Hall would have not used the same amount of force on a suspect who was not brown or black.
Atienza is requesting a jury trial in her civil rights suit and seeks unspecified damages and attorney's fees in the case.
Arboleda's death was Danville police’s first officer-involved shooting since August 2001.