Bakersfield agrees to pay $250K to settle 2014 deadly police shooting

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Michael Dozer was fatally shot by a police officer who was later accused of tickling a corpse.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The City of Bakersfield has agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a lawsuit filed in the fatal shooting by police of a man who reportedly suffered from mental illness.

Mick Marderosian, outside counsel for the city, confirmed the settlement was reached with the mother of Michael Dozer, shot and killed by a Bakersfield police officer during a confrontation at a gas station in 2014.

That officer, Aaron Stringer, left the force a year later following an incident in which he allegedly tickled the corpse of a man killed by another officer.

After a three-day trial in the Dozer lawsuit, a jury ruled in favor of the city after finding Stringer did not use excessive force or act negligently.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, however, overturned the verdict after finding the trial court erred in barring Crawford from testifying about her son’s history of mental illness and how Stringer should have recognized symptoms of his illness during their encounter.

“Evidence that Dozer had previously behaved in ways consistent with mental illness, and had been taken to mental health providers for treatment, makes it more likely that he continued to suffer from mental illness on the day of the shooting,” the circuit court wrote in its decision.

“In turn, whether Dozer was in fact mentally ill that day is relevant to whether he would have appeared to be mentally ill, and thus to whether Stringer knew or should have known that Dozer was mentally ill,” the circuit court wrote.

The shooting happened Aug. 6, 2014, at a gas station on East Brundage Lane when Dozer pointed a black metal object at Stringer and charged him, police said. The object turned out to be a bicycle lock.

Stringer drew national attention in 2015 after it was reported he tickled a dead body at Kern Medical.

A police trainee reported Stringer tickled the feet of Ramiro James Villegas, who had been shot by other officers. The trainee also said Stringer manipulated the dead man’s head.

Stringer said “tickle tickle” as he touched Villegas’ feet, the trainee told investigators.

Criminal charges were not filed against Stringer.

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