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MailTribune.com
  • Family of teen shot by Medford police files $2 million wrongful death suit

  • The family of 18-year-old Elias Ruiz, who was shot five times and killed in 2012 by a Medford police officer, is suing the City of Medford for $2 million, according to a wrongful death complaint filed Nov. 27 in Jackson County Circuit Court.
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  • The family of 18-year-old Elias Ruiz, who was shot five times and killed in 2012 by a Medford police officer, is suing the City of Medford for $2 million, according to a wrongful death complaint filed Nov. 27 in Jackson County Circuit Court.
    According to the complaint, Elias Ruiz "suffered an emotional breakdown," on Jan. 22, 2012, before he was killed on his front porch while brandishing a butcher knife and wearing a bullet-proof vest.
    According to police dispatchers at the time, Ruiz's brother Hakim Ruiz and mother Alejandra Ruiz separately called police to the home in the 800 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, Medford, after a violent altercation erupted as the family was cooking dinner.
    In February 2012, a Jackson County grand jury ruled that police were justified using deadly force after Elias Ruiz charged from his home waving the knife at two responding officers, who were standing near the door.
    That pair of officers — Jason Antley, who had his gun drawn, and Brian Hall, who held a stun gun at the ready — fell down when Elias Ruiz swung the door open, they told the grand jury. Both fired at nearly the same time, according to testimony supplied to the grand jury. Five shots from Antley's gun and the prongs from Hall's Taser all hit Ruiz. (Correction: The spelling of Brian Hall's name has been corrected in this story.)
    "The negligence of the City of Medford was a substantial contributing factor to Elias Ruiz' death in that the City of Medford failed to adequately train its police officers on how to deal with and interact with emotionally distraught individuals, including minors," the complaint states.
    In the month following the shooting, Medford Police Chief Tim George said Antley had been with the MPD for nine years, was a defensive-tactics instructor and had been trained in suicide prevention. Hall was a 17-year officer, who had been a member of the SWAT team for 13 years and also had extensive training in suicide prevention.
    The complaint seeks $1 million in damages for "conscious pain, fear and terror" Elias Ruiz suffered and another $1 million for "a loss of the society, companionship and services" his mother Alejandra Ruiz, father Ramiro Ruiz and younger brother Hakim Ruiz suffered because of his death.
    The family is being represented by Portland-based law firm Kafoury & McDougal, which has worked previously on several excessive-force and police-brutality cases. In 2009, the firm won a case against the City of Portland, two years after Portland police officers assaulted and falsely arrested three African-American men after approaching them in a parking garage.
    The complaint was filed on behalf of Alejandra Ruiz, representing the estate of her dead son, but the City of Medford has yet to be served the complaint, according to court records accessed this afternoon.
    — Sam Wheeler
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