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Orange County

Claim Filed in Shooting at Crystal Cathedral

March 08, 2003|H.G. Reza | Times Staff Writer

A man shot by a plainclothes Anaheim police officer in the Crystal Cathedral parking lot filed a $1.75-million claim against the city Thursday.

His mother, who witnessed the shooting, also asked for $225,000 in damages.

Jeffrey Santelli said the officer, Scott McManus, mistook him for a gang member when McManus shot him once in the stomach Feb. 20.

The personal injury claim alleged that Santelli's mother, Maureen Winer, was traumatized when she witnessed the shooting through her car's rear-view mirror.

Attorney James R. Traut submitted Santelli and Winer's demands for compensation in the same legal action.

A claim usually is the first legal step in filing a lawsuit against a city. Anaheim officials declined to comment Friday, saying they had not been served with the action.

The shooting, which is being investigated by Garden Grove police, occurred when Santelli, a Garden Grove resident, drove to the Crystal Cathedral parking lot to take Winer a credit card. Winer lives in Orange and is a secretary at the church.

Anaheim police officials said McManus was conducting surveillance of suspected gang members when he allegedly saw Santelli driving erratically and followed him to the church parking lot.

The claim alleges that McManus was dressed in shorts and a shirt.

According to a police version of the shooting, McManus confronted Santelli, a computer technician, in the parking lot.

Police said an altercation ensued and Santelli was shot.

Traut said Santelli was unarmed and had nothing in his hands as he spoke to his mother through her car window.

Santelli heard McManus shout at him, and moments later the officer "suddenly and without provocation crouches and fires a gun from a distance of six to eight feet," the claim says.

The claim alleges that McManus "has a history of brutality against those he has sworn to protect."

In 1997, the city paid $90,000 in a lawsuit filed against McManus by Fernando Ortiz. Ortiz said he was beaten by McManus.

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