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Slain Man's Family Sues County, Deputy

January 28, 1998|HILARY E. MacGREGOR

The family of a 26-year-old man who was fatally shot in the back by an off-duty Ventura County sheriff's deputy has filed a federal suit against the county, the city of Port Hueneme and the deputy.

The wrongful-death complaint claims that Jack Sexton's civil rights were violated when he was shot to death Jan. 26, 1997.

The 13-page suit charges that sheriff's deputies, and Deputy Steven Lengyel "unconstitutionally harassed, threatened, assaulted, battered, shot at, and used excessive physical force upon and killed Jackie Dale Sexton II."

Attorney Richard Loy, who is representing the Sexton family, declined to comment on the case.

According to police accounts, Sexton was drunk, combative and acting irrationally when he was shot and killed by Lengyel after entering the home of an 81-year-old widow, a neighbor of the deputy.

Sexton was reported to have walked through the front door of the widow's home and confronted Lengyel and another neighbor, Jon Van Tilburg. The two men were inspecting the home after the woman who lived there ran to Lengyel's house, saying a burglar was trying to break in.

While Lengyel was inside, Sexton came back to the home and walked through the open front door, according to a 47-page report released by the district attorney's office.

Van Tilburg and Lengyel had split up, and while Van Tilburg was alone in the kitchen, Sexton allegedly attacked him, punching him several times and knocking him to the floor.

What happened next is not clear.

Van Tilburg told investigators that he does not remember hearing or seeing anything for a few moments. But witnesses outside described hearing a gunshot and then seeing Sexton run out of the home with Lengyel following close behind.

Sexton stumbled at the front door of a neighbor. One woman said she heard Lengyel say, "Oh, my God, don't die now."

Apart from telling officers later that the shooting had shocked him, Lengyel made no other comments to officials about the shooting.

Attorney Loy said all parties will have a chance to respond to the complaint.

It will then go before a judge, and a trial date will be set.

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