long beach police patch
Photo by John Schreiber.

The family of a military veteran who survived tours in Kuwait and Bosnia but was plagued by post-traumatic stress disorder is suing the city of Long Beach over his 2016 police shooting death, which they claim was motivated by the officers’ “contempt for Mexican Americans,” court papers show.

Jose Romero’s mother, Sofia Valenzuela, filed the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit Friday on behalf of herself and her granddaughter, who is a minor. The complaint — which does nont state the ethnicities of the officers — alleges wrongful death, negligence, assault, battery and civil rights violations in the death of her 39-year-old son.

A representative for the Long Beach City Attorney’s Office could not be immediately reached for comment on the suit, which seeks unspecified damages.

Romero was shot about 10:15 p.m. last Sept. 4 in the 1600 block of Obispo Avenue. According to the lawsuit, Romero was an honorably discharged military veteran and police knew he had post-traumatic stress disorder. Officers were dispatched about 9:15 p.m. after Romero called police and said he wanted to commit “suicide by cop,” prompting the department to dispatch a police mental evaluation team, the suit says.

Romero was “at times” holding a kitchen knife in one hand and later a cell phone after putting the knife on the ground, according to the lawsuit.

He picked up the knife again and was walking with it toward officers when up to 10 shots were fired at him as he crossed Obispo Avenue, the suit states. He fell face-forward on the street and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the lawsuit.

–City News Service

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