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Wrongful Death Suit Fingering Sheriff Deputy, CHP Will Proceed

Jennifer Medina’s wrongful death suit against a San Diego Sheriff deputy and California Highway Patrol officers will be allowed to proceed to trial after attempts to dismiss the case were overturned. Her husband Robert, an active duty Marine, was shot and killed by officers on November 16, 2006 Courthouse News Service reports.

Medina had recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq and was suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome, according to a federal court ruling.

After an argument with his wife, Medina left his house and led officers on a low-speed chase through Oceanside after an attempt to pull him over on suspicion of drunken driving. When he swerved to avoid a spike strip placed by deputy Mark Ritchie in an attempt to flatten his truck’s tires, other officers in pursuit believed Medina was attempting to strike Ritchie with his vehicle and radioed in an attempted “assault with a deadly weapon.”

Highway Patrol officers eventually forced Medina onto a dirt strip alongside the freeway, where they boxed in his truck with patrol vehicles. Ritchie also rammed the truck with his patrol vehicle.

“By this time, over a dozen officers had converged on the scene and several officers and deputies had taken up positions around the decedent's truck and in close proximity to it,” said the ruling.

Ritchie approached the vehicle with his gun drawn and was able to make eye contact with Medina, observing his hands on the steering wheel. He fired several shots at the truck’s tires and ordered Medina out of the vehicle.

Officers then claim Medina turned the truck’s tires toward Ritchie and attempted to move the vehicle. They then proceeded to shoot him a total of 37 times. He was pulled from the truck alive, but died a short time later as a result of the gunshot wounds.

Mrs. Medina filed a wrongful death complaint, which was dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge John Houston except as concerned Ritchie and the County of San Diego. But that ruling was overturned by Judge Anthony Battaglia, who ruled that there is sufficient evidence to support a Fourth Amendment claim of excessive force.

“Plaintiff's allegations that Defendant Ritchie's shooting of the decedent was unreasonably excessive under the circumstances and with intent to harm unrelated to a legitimate law enforcement purpose is plausible,” wrote Battaglia, who rejected motions to dismiss by both Ritchie and Highway Patrol officer Leo Nava, who also fired into Medina’s vehicle.

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Jennifer Medina’s wrongful death suit against a San Diego Sheriff deputy and California Highway Patrol officers will be allowed to proceed to trial after attempts to dismiss the case were overturned. Her husband Robert, an active duty Marine, was shot and killed by officers on November 16, 2006 Courthouse News Service reports.

Medina had recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq and was suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome, according to a federal court ruling.

After an argument with his wife, Medina left his house and led officers on a low-speed chase through Oceanside after an attempt to pull him over on suspicion of drunken driving. When he swerved to avoid a spike strip placed by deputy Mark Ritchie in an attempt to flatten his truck’s tires, other officers in pursuit believed Medina was attempting to strike Ritchie with his vehicle and radioed in an attempted “assault with a deadly weapon.”

Highway Patrol officers eventually forced Medina onto a dirt strip alongside the freeway, where they boxed in his truck with patrol vehicles. Ritchie also rammed the truck with his patrol vehicle.

“By this time, over a dozen officers had converged on the scene and several officers and deputies had taken up positions around the decedent's truck and in close proximity to it,” said the ruling.

Ritchie approached the vehicle with his gun drawn and was able to make eye contact with Medina, observing his hands on the steering wheel. He fired several shots at the truck’s tires and ordered Medina out of the vehicle.

Officers then claim Medina turned the truck’s tires toward Ritchie and attempted to move the vehicle. They then proceeded to shoot him a total of 37 times. He was pulled from the truck alive, but died a short time later as a result of the gunshot wounds.

Mrs. Medina filed a wrongful death complaint, which was dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge John Houston except as concerned Ritchie and the County of San Diego. But that ruling was overturned by Judge Anthony Battaglia, who ruled that there is sufficient evidence to support a Fourth Amendment claim of excessive force.

“Plaintiff's allegations that Defendant Ritchie's shooting of the decedent was unreasonably excessive under the circumstances and with intent to harm unrelated to a legitimate law enforcement purpose is plausible,” wrote Battaglia, who rejected motions to dismiss by both Ritchie and Highway Patrol officer Leo Nava, who also fired into Medina’s vehicle.

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Comments
5

Mrs. Medina filed a wrongful death complaint, which was dismissed at Ritchie’s request by U.S. District Court Judge John Houston. But that ruling was overturned by Judge Anthony Battaglia, who ruled that there is sufficient evidence to support a Fourth Amendment claim of excessive force.

Strange procedural action, two judges on the same case???? making different rulings-how did that happen???

Houston is a career gov employee who has never had a real job-as in non gov job- in his entire life. He has been on the gov dole since he turned 18. Not surprising to see him rubber stamp the approval of gov misconduct by dismissing a legit lawsuit.

April 30, 2012
April 30, 2012

SurfPuppy - the case was transferred after a year of back-and-forth motions by the parties. Also, the motions except those from Ritchie were dismissed - your quote was a misstatement on my part, and the original text has been corrected.

April 30, 2012

The fact remains Houston granted Ritchies request for a dismissal on at least some of the actions-such as the 4th's excessive force claim- and Battaglia revived them. That is unusual.

Judges do not normally reverse another judges ruling, with the rare exceptions of magistrate judges, who are helper judges (usually on motions), and even those are rare cases. Houston is not a magistrate judge.

Anyway, just another day with certain judges who rubber stamp an gov action put in front of them.

May 1, 2012

Dave,

I would like to speak to you about this case, if you could email me or call me. I may possibly have another case that you would be interested in following up on along these same lines

Jan. 27, 2013

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