Home / Badge Abuse / Parents Sue After Video Shows Officers Execute Their Son in Firing Squad Fashion

Parents Sue After Video Shows Officers Execute Their Son in Firing Squad Fashion

The parents of a man who was shot and killed by Santa Maria police officers have filed a lawsuit against the department, the city and a number of officers involved in the shooting, seeking monetary damages and increased crisis training for the police department following the deadly altercation.

As previously reported, Javier Garcia Gaona Jr., 31, was shot by police officers last July during a standoff outside of a gas station in Santa Maria. The standoff ensued when police were dispatched to Gaona’s location following a report of a man “shouting obscenities, holding a knife and making slicing motions to his throat and chest,” according to the Lompoc Record.

Police officers said after their arrival, verbal negotiations between Gaona, police and the FBI were unsuccessful. Officers further claimed that lethal force was necessary following nonlethal attempts because Gaona was “lunging” at officers. 

Several police officers were present at the shooting, and Gaona was ultimately hit 14 times with live ammunition. He later died after being transported to a hospital.

The Santa Maria Police Department offered the following statement following the shooting: “The man continued to hold the knife in a threatening manner. Officers attempted to subdue the man using less than lethal means. Several attempts to subdue him in this manner had no effect. The man began stabbing himself then charged at officers with the knife at which point he was shot by officers.”

The lawsuit acknowledges that Gaona was behaving “in a clearly irrational manner” but claims that more comprehensive tactics specific to handling a mentally unstable person should have been utilized, and alleges that “reasonable officers would not have concluded that Javier, isolated and surrounded by a throng of heavily armed law enforcement officers and their patrol cars, posed an imminent threat of serious physical harm to any individual other than perhaps himself.” Gaona was hit with several bean bags during the altercation, and the lawsuit claims that the bags caused him to stumble about rather than intentionally charge officers.

The lawsuit alleged misconduct that is common in complaints filed in use-of-force fatalities including excessive force, battery, and negligence, but it specifically called attention to the police department’s ability, or perhaps lack thereof, to deal humanely with individuals in a mental crisis. “We feel that it was a wrongful shooting. Had they (officers) had sufficient training, they wouldn’t have proceeded to rush the situation and shoot Mr. Garcia Gaona,” saidWilliam Schmidt, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs. “They could have brought in trained negotiators and mental health professionals. There was no rush. They just started shooting him with the ‘bean bag rounds’ out of shotguns. We feel they should receive more training, and that the family should be compensated for their loss.”

Gaona’s mental health history has not been clearly defined. Eric Schweitzer, the other attorney representing the plaintiffs, noted that Gaona suffered from depression at times but was apt to isolate himself rather than agitate others. While police officers had claimed that Gaona was urging officers to kill him Schweitzer dismissed the “suicide-by-cop” theory.

Gaona’s death is eerily similar to other officer-involved shootings that are characterized by several officers lethally overpowering one suspect. In 2014, six officers fired at a mentally ill man named Milton Hall, prompting the ACLU to question whether police were justified in such heavy force against one man.

READ MORE:  VIDEO: Man Attacked by Two Police Officers While Standing in Hallway

In 2015, a video surfaced indicating a similar situation in which a man was surrounded by officers, hit with bean bags and then killed by gunfire. It appears that in too many of these cases a fatal conclusion has become the norm. Despite the fact that the officers outnumbering a suspect have several advantages, including being insulated by strength in numbers as well as wielding extensive training expertise and a plethora of non-lethal options thanks to innovative technology. With so many alternatives available, why are cases like this continuing to be seen?

  • Lyn McKenzie

    Wrong, just so wrong. I am totally against the use of firearms but if this has to happen why is 1 officer not assigned the task to shoot the person using a tranquiliser gun? Thankfully not so common in UK now would I want it to be .

    • Ed

      Bean bags didn’t work and no body had their taser charged so Bullets away!

    • ssgvern

      Obviously, things are different in the UK.

  • Guy

    All because they, (The Fed’s) haven’t come up with a better way of taking down a deranged, out of control suspect, armed with a bread knife, stick, screwdriver, cell phone or his or her wallet, than to shoot the MF dead, untill he or she stops twitching, because they were in fear for their lives, from a suspect with a thing in it’s hands that *lunged at them from 50 feet away,* and bullets are cheaper by the box ! Plus, mom and dad are looking for the cash payoff, considering that there precious son, is now worth more dead to them, than when he was alive !

  • Hugh Culliton

    Now that the 21st C is turning out to just be “The 20th C: Greatest Hits”, I wonder when the mentally ill will start being rounded up and euthanized?

    • Ed

      It’s commin!

  • doucyet

    Knives are very dangerous and not to be taken lightly. The police have an obligation to “contain” the situation and since the LTL methods proved futile they resorted to their sidearms when it looked like the man may get past them. Bad, bad situation. I’d be willing to bet, that a couple of trained officers with ropes (lassos to you city folks) could have these types roped and hog-tied in short time.

    • Ed

      So someone gets cut taking him down, it’s part of the job!

      • doucyet

        I don’t believe electricians think that way ed.

        • Jim Dick

          Those killers were electricians? It’s DIY electrical work around my home from now on.

          • doucyet

            Did you feel the rush of air as my comment went right over your head?

  • Abz B Zbas

    I counted at least 5 shots AFTER the guy hit the ground.

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  • Ed

    Because cops “Fear for their lives”, and couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag!
    And it’s just easier to just shoot them!

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  • Matrix

    Be armed at all times. The police are our enemy.

  • Matrix

    Please read:

    The worse threat every American faces comes from his/her own government.

    At the federal level the threat is a seventh war (Syria) in 12 years,
    leading on to the eighth and ninth (Iran and Lebanon) and then on to
    nuclear war with Russia and China.

    The criminal psychopaths in Washington have squandered trillions of
    dollars on their wars, killing and dispossessing millions of Muslims
    while millions of American citizens have been dispossessed of their
    homes and careers. Now the entire social safety net is on the chopping
    bloc so that Washington can finance more wars.

    At the state and local level every American faces brutal, armed
    psychopaths known as the police. The “law and order” conservatives and
    the “compassionate” liberals stand silent while police psychopaths
    brutalize children and grandmothers, murder double amputees in wheel
    chairs, break into the wrong homes, murder the family dogs, and terrify
    the occupants, pointing their automatic assault weapons in the faces of
    small children.

    The American police perform no positive function. They pose a much
    larger threat to citizens than do the criminals who operate without a
    police badge. Americans would be safer if the police forces were
    abolished.

    The police have been militarized and largely federalized by the
    Pentagon and the gestapo Homeland Security. The role of the federal
    government in equipping state and local police with military weapons,
    including tanks, and training in their use has essentially removed the
    police from state and local control. No matter how brutal any police
    officer, it is rare that any suffer more than a few months suspension,
    usually with full pay, while a report is concocted that clears them of
    any wrong doing.

    In America today, police murder with impunity. All the psychopaths
    have to say is, “I thought his wallet was a gun,” or “we had to taser
    the unconscious guy we found lying on the ground, because he wouldn’t
    obey our commands to get up.”

    There are innumerable cases of 240 pound cop psychopaths beating a
    115 pound woman black and blue. Or handcuffing and carting off to jail 6
    and 7 year old boys for having a dispute on the school playground.

    Many Americans take solace in their erroneous belief that this only
    happens to minorities who they believe deserve it, but psychopaths use
    their unaccountable power against everyone. The American police are a
    brutal criminal gang free of civilian control.

    Unaccountable power, which the police have, always attracts
    psychopaths. You are lucky if you only get bullies, but mainly police
    forces attract people who enjoy hurting people and tyrannizing them. To
    inflict harm on the public is why psychopaths join police forces.

    Calling the police is a risky thing to do. Often it is the person who
    calls for help or some innocent person who ends up brutalized or
    murdered by the police. For example, on September 15 CNN reported a
    case of a young man who wrecked his car and went to a nearby house for
    help. The woman, made paranoid by the “war on crime,” imagined that she
    was in danger and called police. When the police arrived, the young man
    ran up to them, and the police shot him dead. http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/15/justice/north-carolina-police-shooting/

    People who say the solution is better police training are unaware of
    how the police are trained. Police are trained to perceive the public as
    the enemy and to use maximum force. I have watched local police forces
    train. Two or three dozen officers will simultaneously empty their
    high-capacity magazines at the same target, a minimum of 300 bullets
    fired at one target. The purpose is to completely destroy whatever is on
    the receiving end of police fire.

    US prosecutors seem to be the equal to police in terms of the
    psychopaths in their ranks. The United States, “the light unto the
    world,” not only has the highest percentage of its population in prison
    of every other country in the world, but also has the largest absolute
    number of people in prison. The US prison population is much larger in
    absolute numbers that the prison populations of China and India,
    countries with four times the US population.

    Just try to find a prosecutor who gives a hoot about the innocence or
    guilt of the accused who is in his clutches. All the prosecutor cares
    about is his conviction rate. The higher his conviction rate, the
    greater his success even if every person convicted is innocent. The
    higher his conviction rate, the more likely he can run for public
    office.

    Many prosecutors, such as Rudy Giuliani, target well known people so
    that they can gain name recognition via the names of their victims.

    The American justice (sic) system serves the political ambitions of
    prosecutors and the murderous lusts of police psychopaths. It serves
    the profit motives of the privatized prisons who need high occupancy
    rates for their balance sheets.

    But you can bet your life that the American justice (sic) system does not serve justice.

    While writing this article, I googled “police brutality,” and google
    delivered 4,100,000 results. If a person googles “police brutality
    videos,” he will discover that there are more videos than could be
    watched in a lifetime. And these are only those acts of police
    brutality that are witnessed and caught on camera.

    It would take thousands of pages just to compile the information available.

    The facts seem to support the case that police in the US commit more
    crimes and acts of violence against the public than do the criminals who
    do not wear badges. According to the FBI crime Statistics http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/summary
    in 2010 there were 1,246,248 violent crimes committed by people
    without police badges. Keep in mind that the definition of violent crime
    can be an expansive definition. For example, simply to push someone is
    considered assault. If two people come to blows in an argument, both
    have committed assault. However, even with this expansive definition of
    violent crimes, police assaults are both more numerous and more
    dangerous, as it is usually a half dozen overweight goon thugs beating
    and tasering one person.

    Reports of police brutality are commonplace, but hardly anything is
    ever done about them. For example, on September 10, AlterNet reported
    that Houston, Texas, police routinely beat and murder local citizens. http://www.alternet.org/investigations/cops-are-beating-unarmed-suspect-nearly-every-day-houston?akid=10911.81835.yRJa7d&rd=1&src=newsletter894783&t=9&paging=off

    The threat posed to the public by police psychopaths is growing
    rapidly. Last July 19 the Wall Street Journal reported: “Driven by
    martial rhetoric and the availability of military-style equipment–from
    bayonets and M-16 rifles to armored personnel carriers–American police
    forces have often adopted a mind-set previously reserved for the
    battlefield. The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11
    antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the US scene: the
    warrior cop–armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted
    wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties.”

    The Wall Street Journal, being an establishment newspaper, has to put
    it as nicely as possible. The bald fact is that today’s cop in body
    armor with assault weapons, grenades, and tanks is not there to make
    arrests of suspected criminals. He is there in anticipation of protests
    to beat down the public for exercising constitutional rights.

    To suppress public protests is also the purpose of the Department of
    Homeland Security Police, a federal para-military police force that is a
    new development for the United States. No one in their right mind
    could possibly think that the vast militarized police have been created
    because of “the terrorist threat.” Terrorists are so rare that the FBI
    has to round up demented people and talk them into a plot so that the
    “terrorist threat” can be kept alive in the public’s mind.

    The American public is too brainwashed to be able to defend itself.
    Consider the factthat cops seldom face any consequence when they murder
    citizens. We never hear cops called “citizen killer.” But if a citizen
    kills some overbearing cop bully, the media go ballistic: “Cop killer,
    cop killer.” The screaming doesn’t stop until the cop killer is
    executed.

    As long as a brainwashed public continues to accept that cop lives
    are more precious than their own, citizens will continue to be
    brutalized and murdered by police psychopaths.

    I can remember when the police were different. If there was a fight,
    the police broke it up. If it was a case of people coming to blows
    over a dispute, charges were not filed. If it was a clear case of
    assault, unless it was brutal or done with use of a weapon, the police
    usually left it up to the victim to file charges.

    When I lived in England, the police walked their beats armed only with their billysticks.

    When and why did it all go wrong? Among the collection of probable
    causes are the growth or urban populations, the onslaught of heavy
    immigration on formerly stable and predictable neighborhoods, the war on
    drugs, and management consultants called in to improve efficiency who
    focused police on quantitative results, such as the number of arrests,
    and away from such traditional goals as keeping the peace and
    investigating reported crimes.

    Each step of the way accountability was removed in order to more
    easily apprehend criminals and drug dealers. The “war on terror” was
    another step, resulting in the militarization of the police.

    The replacement of jury trials with plea bargains meant that police
    investigations ceased to be tested in court or even to support the plea,
    usually a fictitious crime reached by negotiation in order to obtain a
    guilty plea. Police learned that all prosecutors needed was a charge
    and that little depended on police investigations. Police work became
    sloppy. It was easier simply to pick up a suspect who had a record of
    having committed a similar crime.

    As justice receded as the goal, the quality of people drawn into
    police work changed. Idealistic people found that their motivations were
    not compatible with the process, while bullies and psychopaths were
    attracted by largely unaccountable power.

    Much of the blame can be attributed to “law and order” conservatives.
    Years ago when New York liberals began to observe the growing
    high-handed behavior of police, they called for civilian police review
    boards. Conservatives, such as National Review’s William F. Buckley,
    went berserk, claiming that any oversight over the police would
    hamstring the police and cause crime to explode.

    The conservatives could see no threat in the police, only in an
    effort to hold police accountable. As far as I can tell, this is still
    the mindset.

    What we observed in the police response to the Boston Marathon
    bombing suggests that the situation is irretrievable. One of the
    country’s largest cities and its suburbs–100 square miles–was tightly
    locked down with no one permitted to leave their homes, while 10,000
    heavily armed police, essentially combat soldiers armed with tanks,
    forced their way into people’s homes, ordering them out at gunpoint. The
    excuse given for this unprecedented gestapo police action was a search
    for one wounded 19-year old kid.

    That such a completely unnecessary and unconstitutional event could
    occur in Boston without the responsible officials being removed from
    office indicates that “the land of the free” no longer exists. The
    American population of the past, suspicious of government and jealous of
    its liberty, has been replaced by a brainwashed and fearful people, who
    are increasingly referred to as “the sheeple.”

    • Abz B Zbas

      I think you will get more people to read your comment if it is clear & concise.

      • G’ma G

        “Unaccountable power, which the police have, always attracts
        psychopaths. You are lucky if you only get bullies, but mainly police
        forces attract people who enjoy hurting people and tyrannizing them. To
        inflict harm on the public is why psychopaths join police forces.”

        Best nugget IMO

      • elropo

        I don’t know how it could be more clear and concise, it takes more than a couple of words to tell his tale, I think it is a great article, unless of course you have the attention of a gnat>>

        • Abz B Zbas

          “unless of course you have the attention of a gnat”… most people on the internet do.

  • Jim Dick

    With so many alternatives available, why are cases like this continuing to be seen? Because it has always been the truth that armed public servants preferred killing over helping. They are not happy with the arrival of less than lethal devices. They hate cameras, video and photographer who dare take their picture. These animals hunt in packs and feed of each others fear. Once a citizen attempts to exercise his/her rights, they will mercilessly stalk, intimidate, threaten and may even injure, arrest or kill citizens The execution of citizens suffering by these state sponsored domestic terorrists, is an epidemic. However, until the advent of LTL technologies, it was never realized. Various City Domestic Terrorist Departments do provide training on the proper employment of these LTL devices but the killers prefer to use them as torture tools and often get their desired kill anyway. Sadly, this post is not a joke.

  • ben dover

    DEAD COPS CAN DO NO HARM

  • G’ma G

    Why are we not tranquilizing people out of control. They used to do this for distressed animals. Are we not as worthy?