Family members of a 49-year-old Fontana man shot and killed by a Chino Police Department officer July 3 during the serving of a search warrant in Chino filed a claim Tuesday saying the shooting was unjustified.
The claim does not give a dollar amount other than stating the family is seeking an amount in excess of $10,000.
Attorneys Brian Dunn and Daniel Deng spoke about the claim at a press conference Wednesday morning in Rosemead, five days after Chino Police released body-cam video of the shooting that shows Chino Police Sgt. Derek Bishop, a 16-year veteran of the department, firing one shot at Li Xi Wang, a Chinese immigrant who appeared to be hiding behind a door when armed officers were searching the home in the 6800 block of Rockrose Street.
Mr. Wang later died at a hospital.
Sgt. Bishop was placed on a three-day paid administrative leave, which is standard protocol after an officer-involved shooting, according to Chino Police Chief Wes Simmons. The sergeant returned to work at the end of that period, he said.
Mr. Dunn said Wednesday that the Chino Police Department hasn’t offered any justification for the shooting.
“Mr. Wang’s family is initiating civil litigation for his homicide, which was unlawful and in violation of all accepted professional standards and training concerning peace officers’ use of deadly force,” he said.
The Chino Police Department’s Special Enforcement team was serving the search warrant on the house that was subject to neighbors’ complaints of suspected drug trafficking and marijuana cultivation.
Mr. Wang was hiding behind a door when he was shot, the video shows.
“At the time of the shooting, Mr. Wang was completely unarmed and complying with the officer’s demand to raise his hands. According to the video, when he was shot dead, Mr. Wang was passively standing, not holding anything in his hands and made no threatening physical movement," Mr. Dunn said.
The video, which was made public by Chino Police on Aug. 23, first shows officers banging on the front door, shouting they were with the Chino Police Department and had a search warrant.
“We created this (video) in response to a new state law that permits us to share an unprecedented amount of information, even though three separate and independent investigations into the shooting are far from complete,” Chief Simmons said.
When no one answered the door, officers forced their way inside with a handheld battering ram and saw a woman, identified as Ai Yue Cai, standing near the front door.
She was handcuffed and asked several times if anyone else was inside. She continued to shake her head no, the video shows. She was arrested on suspicion of marijuana cultivation and grand theft.
Mr. Dunn claims the officers’ demands and warnings were not understood by Mr. Wang and Ms. Cai because they did not speak English.
“Officers quickly detained Ms. Cai and notwithstanding a plainly obvious language barrier, adopted a tactical protocol that failed to implement or consider any tactical considerations to establish any form of effective communication with Ms. Cai or Mr. Wang,” the attorney said.
Chief Simmons said officers seized a combined 1,500 marijuana plants from the Chino home and another house in Fontana during its investigation, along with $35,000 in cash and evidence of grand theft totaling more than $105,000.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office is investigating the shooting and Chino Police investigators are looking into whether the shooting followed department policy, Chief Simmons said.
“The sheriff’s department is also leading the criminal investigation into the alleged drug trafficking and cultivation,” the chief said.
“We will continue to cooperate fully with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.” The chief added that the Chino Police Department’s Professional Standards Unit is conducting an internal investigation, which will be made public once completed.
“Whenever there is a shooting, or a significant use of force, we also review all aspects of our response to look for ways to enhance our tactics, policies and procedures. Decisions about whether the shooting was within our policies and the law will not be made until all facts are known and the investigations are complete,” Chief Simmons said. He said it is also standard protocol during any officer-involved shooting for the investigating agency to take possession of the officer’s firearm used in the shooting to examine it for evidence, including if it accidentally misfired.