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Orange County

Relatives of Man Shot by Police Sue

Courts: Huntington Beach officer violated victim's rights, suit says.

November 29, 2001|CHRISTINE HANLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The family of Antonio Saldivar filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Wednesday against the Huntington Beach police officer accused of shooting and killing the 18-year-old farm worker in what investigators say was a case of mistaken identity.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana by family attorney Tim Black, comes five months after the family's $15-million claim was rejected by the city. The city and Police Department are also named as defendants.

"We think his civil rights were denied and he was killed without any kind of justification," Black said. "His family deserves to be compensated."

The FBI is still conducting a civil rights investigation into the May 5 shooting. The Orange County district attorney's office is reviewing a separate investigation by the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

According to a preliminary account by sheriff's detectives, police were chasing a man through darkened streets in the Oakview neighborhood but lost sight of him. Officer Mark Wersching came across and fired at Saldivar, who appeared to be pointing a rifle at him, investigators said. The rifle turned out to be a toy.

Wersching's attorney, Neal Moore, said Wednesday that his client had not yet received a copy of the lawsuit and could not comment until he did so.

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