From [HERE] The family of a Vallejo man fatally shot by police last month filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday charging that the officere who killed Ronell Foster lied about a struggle before shooting the unarmed father of two multiple times in the back and the back of the head.
Police have said Foster, 32, was killed Feb. 13 after attempting to attack Officer Ryan McMahon with the officer’s flashlight after a struggle and brief pursuit through Vallejo streets.
On Wednesday, John Burris, a civil rights attorney representing Foster’s family, disputed that account and accused police of fabricating a story to justify the shooting.
The complaint, filed Tuesday afternoon in Vallejo, charged that Foster was stalked by police for no reason and a witness never saw him struggle with McMahon before the latter opened fire. For this reason, Burris said, Vallejo police have refused to release body camera footage.
According to the suit, Foster was riding his bike through downtown Vallejo on the evening of Feb. 13 when he stopped to hang out with some friends on the 400 block of Carolina Street. Shortly after he rode away, the complaint said, McMahon and an unidentified second officer began to follow Foster, who got off his bike and ran.
McMahon chased Foster into a residential alley and struck him on the head with a flashlight to cause a gash, according to court documents, before deploying his Taser. Foster again tried to flee, the complaint said, which is when the officer fatally shot Foster in the back and the back of the head.
Vallejo police have refused or ignored requests by Foster’s family to review body-camera footage of the shooting, according to the lawsuit.
“This only stokes the family’s suspicion that Mr. Foster did not present any threat or harm to Officer McMahon when he opened fire,” the complaint said.
Vallejo Police Chief Andrew Bidou slammed Burris in a statement Wednesday, saying the information he released in announcing the lawsuit “has the power to undermine the true relationship between the Vallejo community and police.”
Bidou also said that while the investigation continues, body-camera footage reveals “a different story” than Burris’ version of events. Police will “begin working” to meet with the Foster family to show them body cam footage, Bidou said, adding that on Wednesday, the department scheduled meetings with local media and Vallejo’s African American community so they can “report the facts” to the community.
McMahon has seven years of experience in law enforcement and previously worked at the Sausalito Police Department. He has since returned to duty, said Lt. Kenny Park, a spokesman for the Vallejo Police Department.
Tuesday’s lawsuit offers a starkly different account of the events that led to Foster’s death, beyond the fact that McMahon attempted to stop Foster while he was riding his bike.
Following a brief pursuit and a “violent physical struggle,” Park said, Foster took the officer’s flashlight and intended to attack him with it. In a statement, police said that the officer used his Taser on Foster, “but it was ineffective,” leaving McMahon no choice but to fire his weapon.
“The subject managed to forcibly take away a metal flashlight from the officer and armed himself with it, presenting it in a threatening manner,” Park said.
Burris called that narrative false.
“Contrary to what the city claims, an independent eyewitness to the confrontation and subsequent shooting told my investigators that he never saw Mr. Foster ‘present’ or strike at the officer with a flashlight,” Burris said. “If the city has nothing to hide, it will immediately make the officer’s body camera footage available to Mr. Foster’s family and the community so that they can know the true facts as to how the young father of two met his death.”