Widow sues Arizona city over cops' fatal shooting of husband
MARICOPA, Ariz. — An Army veteran's widow has sued the city of Maricopa and two police officers over the fatal shooting of her husband in an encounter two days after he contacted police to talk about his post-traumatic stress disorder.
Maria Garcia's lawsuit alleged wrongful death, negligence and other wrongdoing in the shooting of Johnathon Guillory, 32, the Casa Grande Dispatch (http://goo.gl/PwxcAu ) reported Tuesday.
Police shot Guillory near his home during a Jan. 18, 2015, encounter.
Officers went to Guillory's home in response to a 911 call that the lawsuit said was a hang-up.
Officers arrived in force, but Guillory posed no threat and police "needlessly escalated an otherwise civil encounter," according to Garcia's lawsuit filed Jan. 19 in federal court in Phoenix on behalf of Garcia.
David Lunn, a lawyer for Garcia, said Maricopa police didn't train on how to handle veterans with PTSD. "The major issue is . we believe the situation was created by the conduct of the police department," he said.
Jennifer Brown, an assistant to the Maricopa city manager, told the Dispatch that city officials couldn't comment on pending litigation. Maricopa officials did not immediately respond Tuesday to a request from The Associated Press for comment on the lawsuit's allegations.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety investigated the shooting, concluding that the two Maricopa police officers involved were justified to shooting Guillory because he pointed a gun at an officer. The Pinal County Attorney's Office declined to prosecute the officers.
A police detective had told fellow officers in an email sent Jan. 13, five days before the shooting, that they should "USE CAUTION" in dealing with Guillory because he was "exhibiting escalating hostility" during encounters with police.
Maricopa police had expressed interest in obtaining help from community members in dealing with veterans who had PTSD or substance-abuse histories, and Guillory went to the police station on Jan. 16 with a crisis counselor from a veterans group to introduce himself and to offer to help, the suit said.
After the Jan. 16 visit, a police commander said Guillory expressed gratitude to an officer for de-escalating an encounter that prompted the detective's Jan. 13 email. However, the commander also warned officers in an email to be cautious around Guillory, the Dispatch reported.
The lawsuit said Guillory was an Army military policeman and served two combat tours in Afghanistan as a government contract worker.
Garcia said in 2015 her husband sought help from therapists for his PTSD and called suicide hotlines.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.