A recently surfaced video of an unarmed 16-year-old boy who was shot in the back of the head while running away from Fresno police is the focus of a wrongful death lawsuit.
The federal civil rights lawsuit was filed last March against the City of Fresno, former Police Chief Jerry Dyer, and Ray Villalvazo, the officer who shot the teen. Attorney Stuart Chandler is representing the teen’s father, Anthony Golding.
On April 15, 2017, Fresno police officers pulled Isiah Murrietta-Golding over because he was a possible suspect in a shooting. They commanded him to step out of the car with his hands up.
According to the lawsuit, the 16-year-old took off and officers followed him to the Discovery Center, a daycare, where he jumped the fence. One officer pursued him on foot.
"Another one of the officers involved in the incident stopped and came up to the fence and just shot him as he was running away," Chandler said, describing the video taken from a surveillance camera. "That's what you see." Murrietta-Golding, who was unarmed, dropped to the ground.
Officers claim they felt threatened. When Murrietta-Golding was running away, he looked back with his hand on his left waistband. Chandler says the teen was holding up his pants.
“The police department claims that it’s justified because he posed an immediate threat to the officer but the video, I believe, shows otherwise,” says Chandler.
In a statement, Police Chief Andy Hall says the teen was known to carry firearms and had jumped a fence into a daycare center. He also says that Murrietta-Golding and his brother were both suspected of a homicide and that his brother was later arrested and pled guilty. Investigations by the Fresno Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, and the City of Fresno all found the shooting justified.
Chandler says he filed the lawsuit to get the police department to create policies and practices that prevent incidents like this from happening. The trial date is set for October 2020.