Attorneys representing Adalid Flores' family filed a federal lawsuit last week claiming the unarmed man surrendered when shot dead by an Anaheim cop in November. The story line starkly contrasts with an Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) report publicly released earlier this month that cleared officer Lorenzo J. Uribe—who had a past of being trigger-happy—in the shooting.
According to the agency's investigation, Flores fled the scene of a traffic collision on the 91 freeway in Anaheim on the night of November 19, 2016 and ran into the driveway of a nearby home. The report states he held one hand behind his back when officers confronted him. Flores refused to comply with repeated commands to show his hands. Officer Scott Eden, Uribe's partner, told investigators that he said Flores held a cellphone or thought he did. "Don't say that!" Uribe rebuffed the rookie policeman on the scene.
After issuing a final command for Flores to show his hands, Uribe opened fire four seconds later when he didn't. Police searched Flores only to find a cellphone. "By saying 'Don't say that,' the inference is Uribe already had the intent to shoot," says Humberto Guizar, an attorney for the family. "That's very powerful circumstantial evidence."
The forty-page complaint paints a different picture than the OCDA report. It states Flores held his hands in the air before being gunned down, a claim Guizar says is based on information he's received from witnesses. As Flores "raised his hands in the air," the suit reads, "Uribe drew his firearm and opened fire on...Flores in the front yard of a residence."
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The Guizar, Henderson & Carrazco firm hasn't had the opportunity yet to review any body-worn camera footage of the shooting. The OCDA report cites video evidence that purportedly shows Flores holding an object behind his back "in a manner that suggested it was a gun." But the suit counters that Flores posed no threat of imminent death to officers before the shooting and was denied immediate medical assistance after it.
The litigation on behalf of Flores' four children, their mother and his parents seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages. In making their case, lawyers summon the Anaheim Riots that happened five years ago when two Latino men were killed by police in back-to-back shootings. "The protests reflect a deep racial division in Anaheim which is historically rooted between APD and minority communities," the suit reads before criticizing a "code of silence" within the department.
Guizar also represents the family of Manuel Diaz, an unarmed man killed by an Anaheim cop in a shooting that sparked riots in 2012. Last year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a civil trial jury verdict in OC that cleared officer Nick Bennallack. To date, the attorney says Anaheim hasn't made any settlement offers in the Diaz case and expects another dogged fight over Flores.
"It's wrong what police officers do what they did in this case and the Manuel Diaz case," Guizar says. "It's wrong when police officers shoot unarmed people."