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Anaheim Pays Man Officer Shot

The city agrees to a $500,000 settlement but admits no guilt. It is the third time claims have been paid involving Officer Scott McManus.

September 18, 2004|Kimi Yoshino | Times Staff Writer

The city of Anaheim has agreed to pay $500,000 to an unarmed man who was shot last year by a plainclothes police officer in the Crystal Cathedral parking lot.

The settlement -- at least the third the city has made involving claims against 10-year Officer Scott McManus -- has prompted the department to increase officer training on how to handle confrontations, officials said.

The most recent incident occurred in February 2003, when Garden Grove resident Jeffrey Santelli met his mother, a longtime church secretary, in the parking lot.

McManus saw Santelli, 33, driving erratically and followed him into the parking lot, police said.

The officer said Santelli charged him, so he shot him in the stomach; Santelli said he walked toward McManus with his arms outstretched.

Santelli filed a $2-million lawsuit against Anaheim, but after a conference Aug. 20, agreed to settle for $500,000. It was approved by the City Council on Tuesday.

"His doctor says that he's completely recovered -- no residuals, so that was good," said James Traut, Santelli's attorney. "He's satisfied with the settlement. I think it was fair."

City spokesman John Nicoletti said the settlement is not an admission of liability. The Orange County district attorney's office reviewed the shooting, and declined to file charges. A Police Department review determined that McManus acted within department policy.

"There were three witnesses and they all support Santelli's version," Traut said.

He also questioned why McManus is still on the police force.

"It seems to me everybody has got to agree that after a certain number of incidents like this, somebody has to say maybe this guy shouldn't be a cop," he said.

The city did not admit wrongdoing in any of the three cases involving McManus.

He was not disciplined in the shooting, but, Police Chief John Welter said, "When we have a case like this where there's a lawsuit and there's a settlement, we're very concerned. That's $500,000 I could use to buy police cars and hire more officers."

As a result of the shooting, Welter said the department has instituted a 10-hour refresher training program on use of force, decision-making and communication skills. McManus and every other officer will undergo the training, the chief said.

In addition, the department is considering equipping police cars with tasers -- electric stun guns -- as nonlethal alternative weapons, Welter said.

In 1997, the city paid $90,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by Fernando Ortiz, who was arrested by McManus on suspicion of being under the influence of marijuana. In a lawsuit, Ortiz said that McManus assaulted him the next day after becoming outraged that Ortiz had been released into a diversion program.

In 1996, the city paid $5,000 to Angelina Trinidad after she sued, alleging police brutality.

In a deposition, Trinidad said McManus responded to her house after she called 911 to report domestic violence and found her crying hysterically, unable to explain the situation. According to Traut, who took the deposition, McManus became frustrated, dragged her down the stairs, roughed her up and threw her in a police car.

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