Rickie Starks (2019)
On July 3, 2019, Los Angeles County California Sheriff's Department deputies Edwin Barajas and Taylor Ingersoll were transporting a man to the jail when they attempted to stop a vehicle that had failed to stop at two red lights. The driver drove away, and the passenger fired a rifle at the officers during the pursuit. The officers returned fire through their vehicle's windshield before their vehicle was disabled.
Deputies Rogelio Benzor and Edgar Cuevas continued the pursuit. The vehicle accelerated towards the deputies, and they exited their vehicle and fired at the approaching car before it drove away.
Officers in a police helicopter located the vehicle, which fired at them. One man was seen fleeing from the vehicle, and was arrested by Benzor and Cuevas. Two other men were arrested later.
Rickie Starks was in the area and was struck by one round fired during the chase. Starks was pronounced dead at the scene.
The medical examiner determined that the fatal gunshot wound "was consistent with being inflicted by a large caliber high-powered rifle".
On October 28, 2019, Starks' family sued the county in state court, claiming that the deputies were negligent in pursuing and firing on the vehicle during the chase, causing Starks' death.
On February 11, 2021, a judge ruled that the officers were not negligent, as their use of force was reasonable. The judge relied on the theory of transferred intent, not qualified immunity.
On June 25, 2021, the family appealed the judge's ruling in federal court, also claiming that the officers intentionally fired at Starks and the shooting was a rite of initiation for a police gang. Note that the judge in the opinion cites the date as May 25, 2021, which does not match the records retrieved from the court.
On October 28, 2021, the District Attorney determined that the deputies "acted in lawful self-defense and defense of others, and that Starks was not struck by deputy gunfire".
In December 2022, the family's lawsuit was assigned to mediation and the records were sealed.
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