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Oakland Personal Injury Lawyer / Blog / Personal Injury / Death of 15-Year-Old Autistic Boy Sets Off Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against San Bernardino County

Death of 15-Year-Old Autistic Boy Sets Off Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against San Bernardino County


The parents of a 15-year-old autistic boy have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against San Bernardino County after sheriff’s deputies shot and killed their son during a mental health call. Attorneys representing the family held a news conference to discuss how deputies handled the situation and address the grief that the family is currently experiencing over the loss of their loved one. The wrongful death claim makes allegations against deputies of assault, battery, false imprisonment, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The County will have 30 days to respond to the family’s claim. While they have not done so yet, the County appears poised to defend itself from the family’s allegations.

The 15-year-old was killed on March 9, 2024, after the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call made by the family. The family told police that the autistic teen was assaulting family members and damaging their property.

What happened? 

According to the family, the dispute with their son began over whether or not he could play video games and listen to music before he completed his chores. In their 911 call, the family reported that their son was assaulting family members and had smashed a window at the family home. The boy’s cousin later called back the sheriff’s department and told them that the situation had de-escalated and was under control prior to their arrival. The family contends that the officers should have backed off after the second call was made.

Ultimately, two deputies shot and killed the boy after he charged toward them with a gardening hoe. The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department has defended their officer’s actions. They believe that the shooting was legal and justified, although it was a tragedy for everyone involved. They contend that the deputies responded exactly the way they were trained under the circumstances.

The sheriff’s department had responded to the family’s home on five previous occasions. In each of those cases, the decedent was taken for mental health treatment, and none of those instances involved any form of violence.

Torts against police officers 

Personal injury lawsuits filed against local governments over the conduct of police officers are becoming more popular across the country. In many cases, the plaintiffs allege that the officers used excessive force or did not reasonably respond to a threat. Often, the case involves officers using force once a suspect has been neutralized. In this case, the threat the boy posed to the officers had not been neutralized when they fired on him. Instead, the family will have to claim that the officer’s approach itself escalated the situation in violation of the county’s use of force policy.

Talk to an Oakland, CA Personal Injury Lawyer Today 

Venardi Zurada represents the interests of injured Oakland residents who are filing negligence claims. Call our Oakland personal injury attorneys today to schedule a free consultation, and we can begin discussing your case right away.



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