Roosevelt, NM — Before he was shot in the back of the head by police, James McFarlin had harmed no one and had merely gotten into a verbal argument with his wife. But Sheriff Malin Parker couldn't have cared less about the facts of the case and chose to resort to deadly force, costing an innocent man the rest of his normal life and the taxpayers of Roosevelt County $3.75 million.
The tragedy unfolded in January 2018 after McFarlin and his wife had an argument. While angry, McFarlin — a farmer — got into a tractor before ramming his own car (not a crime) and driving into the family's property where he let off some steam by driving in circles.
“He goes from smashing their personal property to driving the front-end loader across some public roads into about 120 acres of fields,” said McFarlin’s attorney Shannon Kennedy.
Despite no crime being committed, Sheriff Parker and his deputies initiated a low speed chase, driving in circles behind McFarlin as he did donuts on his own property. As the body camera footage shows, deputies and the sheriff became frustrated that they couldn't get McFarlin to stop as they call him a "bastard" and encourage the sheriff to resort to deadly force on an unarmed innocent man.
"Shoot him," one of the deputies is heard saying to the sheriff, who quickly obliged.
According to the lawsuit, after being directed by one of his deputies to shoot McFarlin, Parker took out a shotgun and began shooting at the tractor. Parker, according to the lawsuit, initially began shooting at the tractor's tires but his shotgun was not enough to penetrate them. So, he opted for shooting the McFarlin in the head.
“There is no crime (Mr. McFarlin) is committing in that moment and certainly no crime that warrants deadly force,” Kennedy explained, according to KOB4.
Without any justification whatsoever, Sheriff Parker opened fire on the cab of the front-end loader and hit McFarlin in the back of his head with a load of buckshot. As the body camera footage shows, miraculously, McFarlin did not die. Instead he received a debilitating injury that would leave him permanently and severely mentally disabled for the rest of his life.
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As the body camera footage shows, McFarlin is heard saying, "I don't know if I'm going to make it” as he fades in and out of consciousness. Blood is pouring out of his head as police blame him for being shot.
McFarlin would be airlifted to a hospital in Lubbock but doctors could not undo the damage to his skull and brain. He now needs 24-hour care just to survive.
“He cannot live alone,” Kennedy said. “He's dizzy and always in danger of falling. He has debilitating headaches. We had to establish a special needs trust and a conservator to help him through this litigation.”
The $3.75 million settlement is just enough money to pay for McFarlin's care for the rest of his life.
Naturally, the sheriff and the county deny any wrongdoing — despite the fact that they were seen on video plotting to kill and attempting to kill an unarmed man by shooting him in the head. In a statement, they blamed McFarlin for his own injuries.
Roosevelt County and Sheriff Parker deny all liability and maintain that the Sheriff acted reasonably and lawfully under the circumstances with the intent of preventing serious bodily injury and/or death to innocent motorists and bystanders in the area whose safety was threatened by Mr. McFarlin’s actions.
Kennedy told KOB 4 that he hopes this sends a message to other sheriffs and law enforcement that you can't simply shoot someone who isn't listening. Unfortunately, however, the real message here is that, yes, you can actually shoot someone for not listening, get away with it, and pass the responsibility onto the taxpayers.