A man who was shot and injured by Lafayette police officers last year has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the two officers involved, the city, police chief and Contra Costa County.
“My law office has handled a number of police shooting cases over the years, and I would have to say this is the most egregious case we have ever seen in terms of there being literally no justification for shooting someone in the gut and leg as they did in this case,” said Stan Casper, the attorney representing 29-year-old Michael Schock.
The shooting happened in front of Schock’s family home in the 3400 block of Woodview Drive on the morning of April 2, 2013, according to police.
Lafayette police officers Steve Harrison and Michael Marshall were dispatched to the home after a 911 hang-up call from the residence.
Schock, who had been “suffering from emotional problems,” had thrown a computer and some other personal items out of a bedroom window but calmed down well before the two officers arrived, according to his attorney, Stan Casper.
Once there, the two officers saw Schock at the front door and ordered him to empty his pockets, Casper said.
Schock took a penknife out of his pocket, which his sister’s live-in boyfriend, James Marin, then took from him and showed to police.
The officers ordered Marin to come out of the house, detained him, patted him down and handcuffed him.
Schock, “partly as a result of his fragile emotional state, feared for the safety and condition” of Marin and exited the house with a small broom in hand and started running toward the officers, according to the complaint.
Harrison attempted to use his Taser on Schock but was unsuccessful, the complaint states.
Schock then dropped the broom voluntarily and continued toward the officers, who retreated down the stairs leading up to the home.
“Officer Harrison then removed his service firearm and shot (the) plaintiff, who was clearly unarmed, at close range in his abdomen and thigh,” the complaint reads.
Schock was taken to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, where he underwent surgery and remained for 14 days, according to the complaint.
His leg was badly fractured and he lost part of his intestine due to his injuries, Casper said.
“Under the circumstances, he’s lucky to be alive,” his attorney said.
Schock was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, exhibiting a deadly weapon, making criminal threats and obstructing an officer. He was arraigned on the charges in Contra Costa County Superior Court and is out of custody and awaiting his preliminary hearing on May 1, according to Casper.
Harrison was placed on administrative leave in accordance with police protocol. It was not immediately known whether he has returned to work.
At the time, police said Schock had threatened the officers with a knife and a “blunt object.”
However, Casper said he believes the two officers were well aware that his client was unarmed.
“They should have been trained to know how to use non-lethal force if they felt they needed to,” he added.
Lafayette police Chief Eric Christensen said this afternoon that he had not seen the lawsuit and therefore could not comment on it.
The city contracts with Contra Costa County for police services. The lawsuit filed in federal court on Thursday is seeking unspecified damages. None of the defendants have responded to the complaint in court.