Family of man killed by Colton police gets $5.4 million

The family of the unarmed man who was shot dead by Colton police in 2016 will receive a $5.4 million settlement, the largest in the city’s history.

Carl Douglas, a lawyer representing Vargas’ children and their mother, said Christian Vargas, 25, was killed in a hail of police fire on Sept. 12, 2016. The lawyer said Vargas was a passenger in a car driven by his friend Joseph Carter, who led Colton Police in a chase that ended after That police opened fire on the car in the parking lot of a high school in San Bernardino County.

According to the police department’s account, Carter hit a patrol car, causing the officers to open fire, fearing for their lives.

in february, Find the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office The actions of officers, Brian Acevedo and Gregory Castillo, were justified because they were in “reasonable fear of death or severe bodily injury”.

Acevedo and Castillo chased the car, a white Honda reported stolen in the parking lot of Washington High School, with officers ordering the two men in the car to raise their hands, according to the attorney general’s report.

But prosecutors said Carter raised his head, then lowered his head, and did not show his hands to prove he was not in possession of a weapon. The attorney general’s report said Carter’s actions were the “obvious direct cause” of Vargas’ death.

Douglas objects to this account. He said Carter was attempting a three-point turn while trying to escape from a parking area and stubbornly stubbed the right front wheel of a patrol car in the process. The lawyer described the prosecutor’s report as a “whitewash” of facts that obscured the details that led to Vargas’ death.

The connection between the patrol car and Carter’s car was slight, Douglas said, adding that when Carter’s car cut off contact with the police cruiser, it flipped onto the gate as if it were in a neutral position.

Then one of the officers opened fire, firing what Douglas described as a “narrow five-shot circle.” The second officer fired from behind Carter’s car.

Douglas said that both Carter and Vargas were shot in the hand, indicating that the two men’s hands were raised.

Carter eventually jumped from the Honda through the driver’s window, according to district attorney records.

Douglas said Vargas was shot in the head and behind his left ear. He was taken to the hospital, where he later died.

“Officers shot and killed Christian Vargas, who did nothing more than be a passenger in a car that eventually took part in a high-speed chase,” Douglas said. “The car was adjacent to a high school fence in a dead end at the end of the chase. There was no need for this rush to judgment by the officers.”

Lawyers representing the city of Colton and the officers did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.

The settlement, agreed on November 11, Douglas said, allows the city to move forward without an apology to the Vargas family, without holding officers accountable and without anyone admitting wrongdoing.

“And that would annoy and frighten all the good people in Colton because these officers are still patrolling amongst them,” the attorney said.

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