The family of a man who was shot and killed by California Highway Patrol officers on the Long Beach (710) Freeway after he allegedly refused to drop a knife filed a wrongful death lawsuit Wednesday against the city and state in federal court.
Ruben Escarrega, 31, of Long Beach, was shot at about 11:30 p.m. on May 7, 2020, after police were called for reports of a man walking in the northbound lanes of the Long Beach Freeway just south of the San Diego (405) Freeway, according to a CHP statement at the time of the death.
The lawsuit alleging civil rights violations was filed in Los Angeles federal court, seeking unspecified damages on behalf of Escarrega’s mother and minor son.
Fran Clader, the CHP’s director of communications, said the agency does not comment on pending litigation. A message seeking comment sent to the Long Beach City Attorney’s Office after regular business hours was not immediately answered.
The plaintiffs filed claims for damages with the city and state late last year, but both claims were rejected. The subsequent lawsuit was then filed in May in Superior Court and removed to federal court Wednesday.
Law enforcement officials said shortly after the shooting that Escarrega was holding a large knife and refused to drop it.
“CHP personnel used less lethal force in an attempt to subdue the pedestrian, who refused to drop the knife. The pedestrian charged CHP personnel in an aggressive manner with the knife, and an officer-involved shooting occurred,” the CHP statement said.
Paramedics took Escarrega to Long Beach Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
However, Escarrega’s family members allege he posed no immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to anyone. They also contend that officers waited too long to provide medical care.
“The delay of medical care was a contributing cause of Mr. Escarrega’s death,” according to the plaintiffs.
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