From [HERE] The Chico police officers who fatally shot Desmond Phillips in 2017 “squandered” their opportunity to safely take him into custody before opening fire, according to a police procedures consultant hired by lawyers representing the Phillips family in a wrongful death suit against the city.
The consultant, Roger Clark, who worked as a law enforcement officer for 27 years, found that police appropriately stunned the 25-year-old Phillips with a Taser as they stormed his family’s apartment March 17, 2017, in the 700 block of West Fourth Avenue, according to recently filed court documents. But instead of going “hands on” and detaining Phillips after he fell to the floor, the officers froze and “utterly squandered their opportunity for Desmond’s safe apprehension.”
What followed, according to Clark, was a “panic shooting,” with officers Alex Fliehr and Jeremy Gagnebin firing their guns “excessively” after Phillips rose to his feet. Phillips, a black man who was suffering from a mental health crisis at the time, was shot at least 10 times at close range. Fliehr has claimed he saw knives in both of Phillips’ hands. Gagnebin has claimed he saw Phillips pick something up off the floor before making slashing motions.
“It is my opinion that the gunfire prevented the appropriate redeployment of the Taser, that the gunfire was unreasonable because the officers were never in danger from Desmond to the point they could not have reasonably removed themselves from that danger, and that the excessive shooting demonstrates that the shooting officers did not re-assess after their initial shots (which were themselves unreasonable),” Clark wrote in an analysis of the incident. “In my experience, this level of excessive shooting is indicative of a panic shooting, and consistent with sympathetic and contagious gunfire.”
Clark’s findings, as well as autopsy and toxicology reports, were filed Friday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The documents were filed by the firm representing the Phillips family in a lawsuit against the city. The firm, led by prominent civil rights attorney John Burris, indicated in court documents that it intends to call Clark as a witness at trial later this year.
Clark retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in 1993 following stints as a deputy sheriff, sergeant and lieutenant, according to the documents. He has since testified as a use of force and police procedures expert across the country. Lawyers for the Phillips family said in the documents that Clark at trial would provide testimony on a variety of topics, including use of force, police response to mentally ill people and Chico Police Department policies.
Chico City Attorney Vince Ewing did not return a message sent Friday seeking comment about Clark’s analysis. An investigation report released by Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey in 2017 said the involved officers had intended to go “hands on” and handcuff Phillips after he was stunned and fell to the floor, but they were surprised when Phillips “unlocked” and quickly rose to his feet. The officers, according to the report, were still assessing whether Phillips had anything in his hands.
The civil trial is scheduled to begin in November.