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Everardo Torres shooting death

Gun happy police have to be trained in restraint

Police get away with murder in the Central Valley

Here is a story from the Central Valley about how the police here get away with murder. The police in Madera had this man, Everardo Torres, arrested and under control. He was handcuffed and in the back seat of a patrol car. An officer comes over and shoots him, point blank, as he is in the back seat of the car. The officer is cleared of any charges. Welcome to the Central Valley.

This follows the case in Fresno where officers shot an unarmed man who was accused of taking two cases of beer from a liquor store. The youth allegedly took the beer and drove a few miles away. The police found them and surrounded the van. Several people in the van got out when the police demanded that they surrender. The driver tried to drive away. He was shot dozens of times by a police department that is out of control.


Officer won't face charges: Shooting of Madera man in police car is called an accident

The Madera County District Attorney's Office announced Friday it will not seek criminal charges against Madera police officer Marcy Noriega for her role in the shooting death of Everardo Torres last October.

Eric Wyatt, assistant district attorney, said an investigation determined Noriega did not intend to kill Torres.

Ferguson, Missouri protest

Protest sign in Ferguson, MO after the killing of Michael Brown, a 18-year-old black male, on August 9, 2014 by Darren Wilson, a 28-year-old white male policeman in Ferguson, Missouri. The results were that same as Randy Martin. After several months of deliberation, a grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson for any criminal charges in relation to the killing. 007

"Though this was a terribly tragic event, after reviewing all of the evidence, it is clear officer Noriega's shooting of Everardo Torres was an accident", Wyatt said. "In such a situation, California penal law is equally as clear. Mere general negligence is insufficient to sustain a criminal charge."

Wyatt said criminal negligence is necessary to sustain a criminal charge and must go beyond "inattention, a mistake in judgment or a misadventure." It must be "an aggravated, reckless or grossly negligent act."

Wyatt said results from a six-month investigation did not support criminal negligence. "Given the disastrous consequences of the events that occurred on Oct. 27, 2002, this decision was not reached quickly or without a tremendous amount of reflection."

Everardo Torres, 24, was shot as he sat handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser after his arrest on charges of resisting and delaying police as they tried to quell a loud party at Madera Villa Apartments on North Schnoor Avenue. Noriega told investigators she intended to shoot Torres with her nonlethal Taser because he was kicking at the car's window, but that she accidentally used her service weapon.

Torres died from a gunshot wound to the heart and liver that also pierced his right kidney, an autopsy revealed.

A Taser shoots an electric charge that overrides the central nervous system and contracts muscles, momentarily incapacitating a person without causing permanent injury.

On the night of the shooting, Wyatt said, a man sitting next to Torres in the squad car told investigators it was "accidental."

Wyatt said the DA's office is aware the decision may create resentment and anger within the community. "While we understand these feelings, we cannot allow them to drive our decision," Wyatt said. "Obviously, if there was any issue of intent, this whole issue would have stopped with a murder case."

It still is not clear whether Noriega, who has been on paid administrative leave since the incident, will return to work. Madera police will conduct an internal investigation now that the DA's office has ruled.

"How long that will take or what the results will be, I don't know," Wyatt said.

The Torres family, which has retained attorney Cameron Stewart of the Cochran Firm in Los Angeles, said they had no comment about the ruling. The reporter can be reached at lapadilla@fresnobee.com or 675-6805.

www.fresnoalliance.com


Cochran takes on Madera shooting: Family of man killed by officer rejected city's settlement offer

MADERA, CA -- The family of Everardo Torres, who was shot and killed by a Madera police officer, has switched attorneys, dropping San Francisco lawyer Arturo Gonzalez in favor of Johnnie Cochran. Everardo Torres' brother, Melchor Jr., said of Gonzalez, "His moral goal was not enough."

Johnny Cochran

City officials offered a settlement payment through Gonzalez, Melchor Torres Jr. said. However, "what they offered us through that guy is not enough," he said. "We want to settle this case right. We have lost more than what they were offering us."

Melchor Torres Jr. would not say how much the settlement offer was for, but Madera City Council members in December rejected the family's $10 million wrongful-death claim.

Torres' family filed a federal lawsuit in November.

Cochran was hired last month, family members said, but the Los Angeles lawyer who was the lead attorney for O.J. Simpson has not visited Madera yet.

Torres, 24, was shot Oct. 27 while he sat with hands cuffed behind him in a police cruiser.

Police officer Marcy Noriega has said she believed she was holding a nonlethal Taser when she fired her service weapon.

The bullet pierced Torres' heart, liver and right kidney.

The case is under investigation, and it's unknown whether Noriega will face criminal charges.

Torres, also known as Jesus Barrientos, was arrested after he and two others allegedly resisted officers attempting to break up a party at Madera Villa Apartments.

Madera police said Torres was unruly and difficult to restrain, struggling against the handcuffs and necessitating the use of a Taser during his arrest, just moments before he was placed in the back of a police car.

A Taser shoots an electric charge that overrides the central nervous system and contracts muscles, momentarily incapacitating a person without causing permanent injury.

Autopsy reports show Torres had several abrasions and cuts on his wrists and his right forearm.

Gonzalez has said Torres was trying unsuccessfully for nearly an hour to get the attention of Madera police because his handcuffs were too tight.

The reporter can be reached at mleedy@fresnobee.com or 441-6208. For more info visit www.Fresnobee.com


Claim targets Madera police: Family alleges excessive force in man's fatal shooting

MADERA, CA -- Family members of a handcuffed man shot and killed by a police officer filed a $10 million claim against the city Monday and will seek at least that amount in a federal lawsuit later this week, their attorney said.

The Madera Police Department, officer Marcy Noriega and other officers present when 24-year-old Everardo Torres was killed are named as defendants in the letter sent to City Administrator David Tooley by attorney Arturo Gonzalez.

Noriega shot Torres, a professional boxer, in the chest Oct. 27 after he was arrested and allegedly began kicking at the rear windows of a police cruiser.

Noriega, who was trying to break up a party at a Madera apartment complex, told investigators she intended to fire her Taser and subdue Torres but mistakenly grabbed her handgun.

"We feel that what happened in this case is incredibly egregious," Gonzalez said Monday. "We are confident that any reasonable juror who looks at this case will agree."

The city of Madera has 45 days to accept or reject the claim. If the claim is rejected, Torres' family can sue in state court.

But Gonzalez said he plans to file a federal lawsuit this week.

"I don't want to wait 45 days; I want to get our investigation started," he said.

Bruce Praet, the attorney handling the case for the city, said he hopes to work directly with Gonzalez to reach "an equitable resolution of this claim for everyone involved."

He said Acting Police Chief Steve Frazier has invited the FBI to review the incident.

Monday's claim letter, filed on behalf of Torres' parents, Maria and Melchor Torres of Madera, says Torres' arrest, and entry by police into the apartment where the party was occurring was illegal. It says the officers used "excessive and unreasonable force in negligently/intentionally/maliciously dealing with Torres" and violated his civil rights.

Gonzalez said the use of a Taser on Torres inside the apartment, officers' refusal to loosen Torres' handcuffs and the fatal shooting outside the Madera Villa Apartments qualify as "unreasonable force."

A Taser shoots an electric charge that overrides the central nervous system and contracts muscles, momentarily incapacitating a person without causing permanent injury.

Gonzalez also said the city was "aware of its officers' inadequate training and supervision as well as their tendency to use excessive force but failed to take steps to correct these problems."

The city "may have also been negligent or reckless in the hiring of said officers and in their failure to discipline them or their peers for prior acts of misconduct," the letter says.

Last week, Madera District Attorney Ernie LiCalsi, whose office is independently investigating the shooting, said he also was looking into an earlier and unrelated possible incident of excessive force by a Madera police officer on a handcuffed suspect. He said results of that investigation would be available soon.

Gonzalez, a partner with the law firm Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco, has represented a number of Central Valley families in high-profile cases, winning substantial sums for many of them. In 1993, he won a $1.45 million verdict on behalf of four Dinuba women who were unlawfully strip-searched after their arrests at a school board meeting. In 1999, he won a $12.5 million verdict for the family of a farmworker who was shot and killed by Dinuba police officers during a SWAT raid.

He settled a case this year for $3 million for the family of an 11-year-old Modesto boy shot and killed in his home by a Modesto Police Department SWAT team member.


Family of police victim plan lawsuit

MADERA, CA -- Police officer Marcy Noriega, who stands accused in the shooting death of Everardo Torres, is described as various residents in the community as a person who carried out her duties with a less-than-positive attitude and whose career record might reflect other negative incidents. Torres received a fatal gunshot to the chest, which went through his heart and liver when Noriega confused her M26 Taser with her Glock 23 handgun.

"I have heard that she has had problems before but I have no proof, said attorney Arturo González. "That is why we are going to file a suit against her. I do not want to wait until the conclusion of the internal investigation by the Madera Police Department (which is said to conclude in 3 months). Once this suit is filed, we can begin our own investigation and, in fact, interrogate the accused ourselves."

Torres, 24, was fatally wounded the night of October 27th when police were called out to the Madera Villa apartments, located at 2100 N. Schnoor, where, apparently, a loud party was going on and neighbors had complained. Upon arriving, the police found Torres sitting on the floor. "They asked him his name and when he refused to tell them, they handcuffed and arrested him," said Jesús Rueda, who attended the party.

Torres struggled and police "started to shock him with their guns. We told them not to do that and one of the girls (who was identified as Erica), intervened but was arrested herself." Rueda said that with all the shocks Everardo received he was unable "to talk or scream. He desperately opened his mouth due to the agonizing pain he felt. If he moved at all, it was due to that." He pointed out that many of the officers standing around "laughed at his facial expressions...."

Torres remained in a patrol car for 30 to 40 minutes while officers gathered the necessary information for their report. Apparently Torres was attempting to get out of the patrol car, while handcuffed, by hitting the windows when Noriega, in an attempt to calm him with her taser, fired a shot.

"It could have been intentional or a mistake", says González, "and that is why we want to file suit as soon as possible so we can get started on our investigation."

"He was killed 'execution style'," said Carlos Torres, cousin to the deceased.

According to the interim police chief in Madera, Steve Frazier, taser guns are similar to a Glock 23, which is the official gun used by the department, even though the taser gun is longer due to its integrated battery pack and 10 ounces lighter than a conventional gun. The Madera Police Department has turned over the case to the county's district attorney's office.

"The district attorney is quite close to the police department and we want all the evidence as soon as possible," said González, who pointed out that 3 private investigators are already gathering the necessary information. González isn't disclosing the details of the suit at the moment. "What we want is justice."

With over a dozen similar cases to his credit, which have netted over 20 million dollars, González says that what is most important is to "avoid this from happening somewhere else because, frankly, I feel sad that these things happen so frequently in the Latino community. I have seen similar cases in Fresno, Merced, Stockton, Modesto, everywhere."

Through their lawyer, the Torres Family has asked Bill Lockyer, the state's District Attorney, to conduct an independent investigation of the incident. "This will be turned over to the Crimes and Civil Rights division," Hallye Jorday, spokesperson for Mr. Lockyer, informed.

Everardo Torres, who was an amateur boxer for several years and dreamt of making it as a professional, was buried in Madera Cemetery last Thursday. Send e-mail to: danielr@vidaenelvalle