Here's how the PSN article ("Man shot while sleeping in SUV files suit against Sierra Madre") sums it up:
A man shot by a police officer while waking up in the back of his SUV filed a lawsuit against the city and its police department ... Jason Jensen, 46, of Monrovia alleges that Sierra Madre Police Officer Henry Amos was negligent when the officer in January fired through the car's rear hatch and hit Jensen in the back ... The city has until Nov. 5 to answer ... Jensen's lawsuit names Amos, the city and the police department as defendants, and alleges Jensen suffered from violations of his constitutional rights, assault and battery, and negligence.
Jensen's attorney is Kelly F. Ryan, a lawyer with the firm Russakow, Ryan & Johnson, PC. You can access Ryan's Attorney Profile here.
In the Court documents you can read quite a bit of information about this case, but what struck me as being the most telling passages are from the Section IV, which is referred to there as "Backround." These are the first legally worded descriptions of the event, and apparently it will be a Federal Jury that will have to decide on their worth.
On or about January 30, 2009, Plaintiff was asleep in the rear of a vehicle, he had borrowed from its owner, parked on Sierra Madre Blvd., in the City of Sierra Madre. On information and belief and thereupon alleged, at approximately 3:30 a.m. Defendant Amos had the vehicle towed to a police garage located at 200 West Sierra Madre Avenue located in the City of Sierra Madre. While in the tow yard, Plaintiff awoke and attempted to sit up when he was struck by a single bullet discharged, on information and belief and thereupon alleged, from defendant Amos' service weapon. The bullet struck Plaintiff in the rear upper torso entering his body and passing through it exiting the front near Plaintiff's hip.
By the description given here it appears that Jensen was shot somewhere in the back. Which could make any speculation that Jensen might have threatened Amos, and therefore incited the gunshot, appear moot.
At the end of the PSN article there is a passage quoting Sierra Madre Police Chief Marilyn Diaz as having said this:
"I can tell you that we provide training on a daily basis, including regular reviews of our policy procedures for search-and-seizure law, liability, use-of-force and other training topics most likely to result in litigation or other court action," Diaz said.
Now in the Court documents, and maybe not completely by coincidence, the following training related passages can be found among the listed complaints.
On information and belief and thereupon alleged, defendants, and each of them failed to follow the practices and policies of the Sierra Madre Police Department including but not limited to:
c) Failing to adequately train, supervise, and control officers in the arts and practice of law enforcement, including, without limitation, the taking into custody vehicles and persons not engaged in criminal activity, without serious injury ..
d) Failing to adequately discipline officers involved in misconduct ..
e) Condoning and encouraging officers in the belief that they can violate the rights of persons in this action with impunity, and that such conduct will not adversely affect their opportunities for promotion and other employment benefits.
Not wanting to read too much into Chief Diaz's statement, but can it be that she is acutely aware of the training issue because, judging by the legal documents we've now looked at, that will play an important role in the upcoming trial? And can it be that if inadequate and ineffective training by the SMPD is proven in Court, will it put this City in jeopardy of having to pay severe financial penalties?
Who knows, maybe that aspect of the defense has already begun.