BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The family of a man fatally shot by a deputy after a traffic stop in Mojave last year has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county.
The suit alleges excessive force and inadequate training on the part of the sheriff’s office, among other causes of action, and claims the deputy shot 39-year-old Mickel Lewis Sr. six times in the back and side despite Lewis posing no threat.
“(The deputy) used excessive force against the decedent when (the deputy) shot at the decedent six times in the absence of reasonable suspicion or probable cause and failed to provide timely, appropriate medical attention and care to the decedent,” the suit says.
Additionally, deputies arrived at a memorial later set up at the site of the shooting “callously laughing, yelling and glaring” at Lewis’s family, and threatened witnesses not to cooperate with the family’s attorneys, according to the suit.
Filed by Los Angeles-based attorneys Toni J. Jaramilla and J. Bernard Alexander III, the suit seeks damages for medical and funeral expenses, loss of earnings and more in an amount to be determined at trial. A press conference regarding the suit is scheduled for 11 a.m. today in Los Angeles.
Jason Ayala, the deputy who shot Lewis, knew Lewis was on probation and possibly in possession of a gun when he stopped him Oct. 3 after Lewis left a Wienerschnitzel in Mojave, sheriff’s officials said. Lewis initially cooperated, but soon ran from the deputy before going back toward his vehicle.
Lewis then charged the deputy with his hand in his waistband and Ayala fired, officials said. A handgun was not found on or near Lewis, but it’s believed he had gone back to his vehicle to retrieve a gun, according to sheriff’s officials
Surveillance video shows Lewis’s girlfriend, who was in the vehicle, walk to an area a short distance from where the shooting occurred. Police later searched that area and found a handgun behind a utility pole.
The attorneys for Lewis’s family called the sheriff’s office’s account of events a “false narrative” based on “false and fabricated facts.”
Lewis had convictions for resisting an officer, spousal battery and failure to register as a sex offender on a criminal record that spanned at least 22 cases in California. He was on probation and had multiple pending cases at the time of his death.