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Monday, September 10, 2012

Federal Lawsuit Filed in New Columbia Police Shooting

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Mon, Sep 10, 2012 at 3:59 PM

The family of Adalberto Flores-Haro—a New Columbia resident wounded by Washington County police this spring after, his relatives say, he went out with his gun to check on what he thought was a prowler in his yard—has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit over the shooting.

Flores-Haro was shot several times March 13 by a Washington County tactical team helping Portland detectives serve a search warrant at a nearby home in New Columbia. His family said he didn't realize the men in black in his yard were police officers when he confronted them and then went back in his home to get his gun and confront them again.

The suit, filed on Friday, seeks an undetermined amount of economic damages for Flores-Haro, his wife, and his children, all of whom are named as plaintiffs. Defendants include the three officers who fired at Flores-Haro—Hillsboro police officer Steven Slade and Washington County deputies John Egg and Brian McLeod—as well as the city of Hillsboro and Washington County. Neither Portland nor its officers are named in the suit. but Flores-Haro's attorneys, prominent civil rights advocates J. Ashlee Albies and Michael Rose, said they've filed a tort claim against the city—which is a precursor to a potential lawsuit.

All three officers were cleared of criminal wrongdoing by a Multnomah County grand jury, but the complaint (pdf) nonetheless tells a chilling story of a confrontation gone almost fatally wrong. It says Flores-Haro first confronted a man in his yard unarmed but was bluntly told by that man, who did not identify himself as a cop, to go back inside his house. It was then that Flores-Haro got an unloaded pistol and came back outside to scare off the "trespasser," as the complaint puts it.

Except, when he came back outside, this time with his wife, the suit says, the officers named in the suit opened fire without warning or notice at Flores-Haro, injuring him badly enough that he spent weeks in the hospital. The suit says one of his children was also forced to lay on the ground at gunpoint, that his wife was kept from the kids for extensive questioning after their home was evacuated, and that Flores-Haro was treated roughly despite being seriously wounded.

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Grand jury transcripts in the shooting, because Flores-Haro lived and because there was talk of a potential criminal investigation, have been sealed.

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