Fresno to pay over $9M in fatal police shootings lawsuits
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — The city of Fresno will pay $9.3 million to settle two lawsuits with the families of a teenager and a man fatally shot by police in separate shootings.
Officials reached a $4.9 million tentative settlement with the family of 16-year-old Isiah Murrietta-Golding, who was killed as he fled from police in 2017. The city also dropped its appeal and agreed to settle a separate case and pay the family of Casimero “Shane” Casillas $4.4 million. Casillas was killed by police in 2015, the Fresno Bee reported Sunday.
“These are two very difficult cases that the council wants to bring closure to the families that acknowledges loss and allows the city to pursue other settlements,” Councilmember Miguel Arias told the Fresno Bee. “I want to sincerely express our apologies and sympathies to the families. It’s my hope that the settlements allow the families to move forward.”
The council is looking to clear out pending cases in order to implement police reform recommendations in good faith, Arias said. Officials have confirmed that about two dozen of the 70-plus recommendations made by the Fresno Commission for Police Reform are in the works.
Video of the shooting showed Sgt. Ray Villalvazo firing a single round that struck the back of the head of Murrietta-Golding as he ran away from police. Police said he was a suspect in a fatal shooting the previous day.
Some people were further outraged when a body-worn camera captured what seems to be another officer saying “good shot,” as the boy lay dying on April 16, 2017.
The Fresno Police Department‘s Internal Affairs Bureau, Fresno County District Attorney’s Office and the city of Fresno’s Office of Independent Review all deemed the lethal force justified.
In the case of Casillas, a jury awarded $4.4 million to his family in 2019 but the city appealed the decision.
The Casillas family sued the city over their father’s death, alleging Officer Trevor Shipman violated Casillas’ civil rights by using excessive force when he confronted him on Sept. 7, 2015.
Shipman shot Casillas three times after what began as a traffic stop escalated into a confrontation. Shipman testified he fired his weapon at Casillas after he rushed toward him with a 2-foot-long (0.6-meter-long) metal pipe.
An investigation found Shipman to be justified in using deadly force against Casillas.