Lawyers for a man shot by police last month during a fight at a San Jose taqueria have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officer and the city.
K’aun Green, 20, was shot by an officer on March 27 after his legal team says he disarmed a gunman and was trying to leave the scene of the brawl inside the La Victoria Taqueria on San Carlos Street next to San Jose State University. Police say Green, who was seen holding the gun as he exited the taqueria, ignored warnings to drop the gun before he was shot.
"This hero was met with bullets," Adanté Pointer, Green's lawyer, said. "And that is why we have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on his behalf."
NBC Bay Area asked the city and the police department for comment, but they both said they couldn't speak about pending litigation.
Green's attorneys say he and his friends were waiting for their order at the taqueria when an unknown man approached Green and started a fight.
At one point, a friend of the man who instigated the fight pulled out a gun and pointed it at Green's head, his attorneys say. Green disarmed the gunman and fought off attempts to take it back.
Officers, who had just responded to a deadly shooting blocks away, rushed to the scene after receiving reports of a man with a gun.
When officers arrived, they came upon Green holding the gun as he exited the taqueria, according to police. San Jose police Chief Anthony Mata said Green ignored warnings to drop the gun.
"Officers gave repeated commands to drop the gun," Mata said in the days after the shooting. "However, the individual does not drop the gun and one officer shot more than one time, striking the individual."
Green's attorneys say he had his back to the officers and was holding the gun above his head with the barrel pointing toward the sky.
"Then without warning or giving him a reasonable time to acknowledge the officers’ presence and/or respond to any commands, a single officer opened fire, striking K’aun four times in the left leg, arm, and abdomen," Green's attorneys said in a statement.
Green says officers then kept him handcuffed to a hospital bed as he recovered from the gunshot wounds.
“It hurt to be treated like a criminal when all you wanted to do was save you and your friends' life," Green said Thursday, speaking publicly for the first time since the shooting.
Police said Green suffered non-life threatening injuries in the shooting, but his football activities and dreams of pursuing a career in sports are on hold for the foreseeable future as he recovers.
"I’m in pain," Green said. "I’m hurting inside and out. I told my parents, this is our reality. It hurts to be shot. The real pain didn't come until all my teammates came to see me and I couldn't walk out the door with them."
The officer who shot Green has four years of experience and was placed on routine administrative leave, Mata said. The officer has not been identified.
"The determination of whether this shooting was lawful and justified will come from the district attorney at a later date," Mata said.
Legal analyst Steven Clark said Green does have a case.
Police said Green will not face any charges.