Prominent Bay Area civil rights attorney John Burris said Friday that he plans to sue the city of Richmond and police Officer Wallace Jensen on behalf of the family of a 24-year-old man shot and killed by police in front of a liquor store last Sunday.
"An unarmed man was shot and killed who shouldn't have been killed," Burris said.
The announcement came hours after police publicly identified Jensen as the officer who fatally shot Richard "Pedie" Perez after a struggle with the Richmond man just outside of Uncle Sam's Liquor Store around 12:15 a.m. Sunday. Police have said Jensen shot Perez after he held the officer down and tried to grab his gun.
Burris, who was retained by Perez' family a day after the deadly shooting, said his own probe into the shooting reveals information contradicting police's version of events.
"Our investigation indicates that Mr. Perez, who was unarmed when shot by the officer, did not at any time attempt to take the officer's gun," Burris said. "The officer's claim is disputed by various witnesses."
The attorney will join Perez' friends and family in Richmond on Saturday afternoon for a rally and news conference following a noontime memorial at Nicholl Park.
Richmond police said earlier Friday that police Chief Chris Magnus and other officers also planned to attend the public memorial after receiving an invitation from the family.
"It is possible to acknowledge the tragic aspect of a situation without insinuating that our officer did not act appropriately," Richmond police Capt. Mark Gagan said.
"Tomorrow is a day for people to get together to talk about what Mr. Perez meant to them, and we understand that," he said.
Meanwhile, the officer who shot Perez remains on paid administrative leave pending the results of an investigation by the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office, which is standard protocol following an officer-involved shooting, Gagan said.
Jensen is a six-year veteran of the department and a trained crisis negotiator, the police captain said.
Gagan said autopsy results show that Perez was facing Jensen when the officer shot him three times in the upper torso.
Gagan declined to comment further on the investigation into the shooting but said police plan to update the public on their findings in the coming weeks and that the department "want(s) to have transparency, regardless of what the information reveals."
Perez was originally from Fairfield and attended Pinole Valley High School, according to his Facebook page.
Rhonda Reeder Perez, his aunt, described her nephew in a post on the Richmond Police Department's Facebook page as a kind, generous man who "bought food for those that were hungry, money for those that were broke, love for those who were unloved and a laugh for those who needed to be cheered up."
Police said Perez was intoxicated and belligerent when Wallace encountered him while patrolling the area near Uncle Sam's Liquor Store at 3322 Cutting Blvd. a short time after midnight Sunday.
According to police, the officer asked Perez to sit down for a records check in front of the store but instead of complying, Perez attacked him.
Police said the two men fell to the ground and that Perez became increasingly aggressive toward Wallace, trying to grab his gun from its holster.
At one point, Chief Magnus said in a statement, Perez "grabbed and held on to one of the officer's hands, while using his other hand to simultaneously go for the officer's gun."
Magnus said at least one independent witness verified that description of what happened.
"The physically exhausted officer, fearing the suspect would overpower him and get his gun, fired three shots at the suspect, striking him in the chest," Magnus said.
Police and District Attorney's Office investigators are reviewing information from witnesses and video footage from the liquor store to determine the events that led up to the shooting.