Federal Negligence & Wrongful Death Suit Against Sheriff’s Department Over 2013 Shooting Dismissed

A federal lawsuit brought against the County of San Bernardino, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, and the personnel involved in the November 30, 2012 shooting of 33-year-old Clyde Murray was dismissed on May 15, 2009.
Murray, a paroled street gang member who was known to be involved in armed robberies in San Bernardino, Highland and Redlands, was spotted on Thursday November 29, 2012 at the Days Inn at 1386 Highland Avenue in San Bernardino. By 10 pm that evening, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Specialized Enforcement Team had set up surveillance at the Days Inn. When Murray emerged from his room at  9:26 a.m. Friday morning, sheriff’s personnel approached him, seeking to take him into custody.
Sheriff’s Detective Joshua Smith opened fire on Murray after Murray did not comply with a demand to show his hands. “Based on the suspect’s actions, an officer-involved shooting occurred,” according to a sheriff’s department statement at the time. “The suspect was found to be in possession of a handgun,” which was later identified as a .45 caliber weapon.
In its finding clearing Smith, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office found credible witnesses’ indications Murray was reaching for his waistband area when the shooting occurred.
On August 15, 2013, the County of San Bernardino, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and involved personnel were served with a lawsuit claiming negligence and wrongful death. San Bernardino County retained Attorney Dennis Popka to represent the county’s interests. Popka defended the case for almost six years. The lawsuit filed in state court was dismissed and the plaintiff refiled the case in federal court.
According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, the public is encouraged “to become informed on civil court cases.” State lawsuits can be reviewed at http://www.sb-court.org/divisions/civil-general-information/court-case.  To review federal lawsuits, an account can be created on www.pacer.gov.  With this account information, cases can be reviewed by any member of the public.
-Mark Gutglueck

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