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Family of Man Shot by Police Files Lawsuit

November 02, 1996|ANNA CEKOLA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — The family of a 22-year-old man shot to death last year after he allegedly aimed a shotgun at a Huntington Beach police officer has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Relatives of Jose Manuel Rios allege police acted "negligently and recklessly" in the Sept. 29, 1995 shooting in an alley off Jacquelyn Lane.

Police at the time said the Huntington Beach man had pointed a sawed-off shotgun at officers responding to the report of gunshots in the alley.

The two officers involved had said they saw Rios walking with the shotgun in hand about 8 p.m., and tried to stop him by knocking him over with the car at a slow speed. Rios, police said, fell onto the hood of the car and pointed the shotgun at the officer in the passenger seat, who opened the door, leaned out and fired his gun.

Rios fell to the ground and was pronounced dead at the scene. A relative, walking with Rios that night, contended his cousin had his gun pointed to the ground when the shooting occurred, and said they didn't know the men in the car were police officers. Although in uniform, they were riding in an unmarked car.

At the time, family members said Rios, one of nine children, had obtained the gun about three weeks earlier to protect his family against threats made by the boyfriend of a relative.

They said he had been working as a parking lot attendant in Newport Beach and stayed out of trouble. The cousin said Rios had fired his gun that night into the air out of frustration over his relationship problems.

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