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Ventura County

Claim Filed in Shooting

Girl, 14, wounded by Ventura officer pursues legal action against the city and county.

November 16, 2002|Steve Chawkins | Times Staff Writer

Attorneys for a 14-year-old girl shot by a Ventura police officer who ordered her to drop a kitchen knife have filed a civil claim against both the city and Ventura County.

The claim, which is the first step toward a lawsuit, contends that the shooting by Officer Kristin Rupp was "without justification or excuse." It also accuses the county of failing to properly train the girl's foster family and failing to provide adequate treatment for her injuries.

Rupp, 23, has been cleared of wrongdoing by a departmental investigation. The girl, a Chinese immigrant who had been in this country for just two years, awaits trial Dec. 16 on a charge of assaulting an officer with a deadly weapon.

According to police, the girl was threatening to kill herself when her foster parents called police to their Ventura home May 5. Instead of dropping the knife when ordered, she advanced toward Rupp, prosecutors have said. The girl was shot three times.

Members of the Chinese American community in Los Angeles and in Ventura County are following the case closely, said Dr. George Yu, an Oxnard physician who is active in a number of Chinese organizations.

"We're calling for the dismissal of criminal charges" against the girl, he said. "The district attorney is just trying to cover up a mistake by a rookie officer."

The girl was raised by her grandmother in China and immigrated to join her father, who ran a Newbury Park restaurant. She was placed in foster care after she and her father fought over a boyfriend.

"She was mentally distraught," Yu said. "What she needed was help."

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