2 lawsuits filed over fatal San Jose police shooting of homicide suspect

Richard Jacquez
Richard Jacquez

SAN JOSE (BCN) — Two lawsuits were filed against the city of San Jose in the last week over the fatal police shooting of an unarmed man who was fleeing officers in August 2015.

Richard Jacquez, 40, was one of two suspects in the same homicide who were killed by police in the span of 24 hours. Jacquez was killed at about 7 p.m. on Aug. 17, 2015, less than a day after police killed 29-year-old Matthew Castillo.

The first of the two lawsuits over Jacquez’s death was filed on Saturday on behalf of Jacquez’s mother, Gloria Jacquez, and his unidentified son. They are represented by the law offices of Oakland-based civil rights
attorney John Burris.

The suit calls Officer Jacob Morris’ decision to fire “inexplicable” and calls the shooting “brutal, malicious, and done without just provocation or cause.”

The second suit was filed Monday by Chandra Jacquez, Richard Jacquez’s adult daughter, who her attorneys say was to some extent dependent on her father financially. She is represented by San Jose attorney Jaime Leanos and Woodland Hills attorney Dale Galipo.

That suit alleges that the officers didn’t provide prompt medical treatment after the shooting.

Both suits are seeking unspecified damages for wrongful death, excessive force and negligence, among other allegations.

The Police Department fielded some backlash in the days after Jacquez was killed for changing the story of what led to the shooting.

Initially, police said Jacquez had turned toward Morris and reached for his waistband, but later clarified that Morris shot him in the back and he had only turned around after he was shot.

LaDoris Cordell, a retired Santa Clara County Superior Court judge, filed a complaint with the city’s Independent Police Auditor’s office suggesting the shifting story and misleading initial statement were a form of misconduct.

Both Castillo and Jacquez were suspects in the murder of 38-year-old Christopher Maxwell Wrenn in an office building the 1800 block of Lundy Avenue on Aug. 13. Police found Wrenn wounded in a hallway at about 1 a.m. He later died in a hospital.

Shortly after Wrenn’s shooting, police released surveillance footage from the building showing three suspects walking through the hallway.

One, believed to be Castillo, was carrying a handgun and another, believed to be Jacquez, was carrying a Tec-9 pistol.

A few days after the homicide, at about 10 p.m. on Aug. 16, police tried to take Castillo into custody outside at a strip mall in the 3100 block of Senter Road near Capitol Expressway. Castillo allegedly pulled a handgun on officers Vidal Fonseca and Michael Jeffrey, prompting them to open fire.

The next day, police spotted Jacquez driving and started following him and were concerned for the safety of a woman passenger with him. Jacquez noticed he was being followed and fled, leading police on a pursuit that ended when he crashed in the area of Kirkhaven Court and Stoneyhaven Way, according to police.

Jacquez got out of the car and ran from the officers toward a family member’s home. He disobeyed Officer Morris’ commands to stop and Morris shot him in the back.

But while Jacquez was believed to be armed based on the surveillance video from the homicide, he was not found with any weapon when he was killed. Police later said they recovered the Tec-9 but did not say

As of Wednesday, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has not decided whether to file any criminal charges against officers in the deaths of either Jacquez or Castillo.

A third suspect was masked in the surveillance video but was later identified as 42-year-old Duane Aguero of San Jose. Aguero was arrested on Aug. 27, 2015, and has remained in jail without bail since then.

He has been charged with murder and has a preliminary hearing scheduled in November.

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