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Blueford v. City of Oakland

Blueford v. City of Oakland

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JOHN L. BURRIS, Esq./ State Bar #69888 BENJAMIN NISENBAUM, Esq.l State Bar #222173 LAW OFFICES OF JOHN L. BURRIS Airport Corporate Centre 7677 Oakport Street, Suite 1120 Oakland, California 94621 Telephone: (510) 839-5200 Facsimile: (510) 839-3882 Attorneys for Plaintiffs

ADA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

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ADAM BLUEFORD, individually, and as cosuccessor-in-interest to Decedent ALAN BLUEFORD; JERAL YNN BLUEFORD, individually, and as co-successor-in-interest to Decedent ALAN, BLUEFORD;

) Case No.

) ) COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR

C12 -03791

EL

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) WRONGFUL DEATH ) ) JURY TRIAL DEMANDED ) Plaintiffs, ) ) vs. ) CITY OF OAKLAND, a municipal corporation; ) HOWARD JORDAN, in his capacity as Chiefof~ Police for the CITY OF OAKLAND; MIGUEL ) MASSO, individually and in his official capacity) as police officer for the CITY OF OAKLAND; ) ) and DOES 1-25, inclusive, ) Defendants. ) ) ) )

) VIOLATIONS OF CIVIL RIGH'fSAND

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INTRODUCTION On May 6, 2012, Defendant Officer MIGUEL MASSO shot Decedent ALAN BLUEFORD to death when Mr. BLUEFORD was on the ground. Defendant Officer MASSO shot Decedent three times on the ground, and also shot himself one time in the leg. Mr. BLUEFORD did not present a legitimate threat to Defendant Officer MASSO when Defendant Officer MASSO shot
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COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

Mr. BLUEFORD. Mr. BLUEFORD died from the gunshot wounds at the scene of the shootin .
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Defendant Officer MASSO and one other Oakland Police Department officer sparked t~e events leading to the shooting shortly before when they detained Mr. BLUEFORD and two fri+dS without cause in violation of their civil rights. Defendant CITY OF OAKLAND subsequently falsely claimed Mr. BLUEFORD discharged a gun while fleeing from Defendant Officer MASSO's ilJegal detention. However, the gunshot falsely attributed to Mr. BLUEFORD was in fact Defendant 6fficer
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MASSO shooting himself, with his own gun, in his own leg. Mr. BLUEFORD never diSChargl'd a weapon. All gunshots that struck Mr. BLUEFORD were blatantly unreasonable, excessive use. of force against a man who had fallen to the ground and who was clearly unarmed after falling to Jhe ground. JURISDICTION 1. This action arises under Title 42 of the United States Code, Section 1983. Jurisdiction

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is conferred upon this Court by Title 28 of the United States Code, Sections 1331 and 1343. THe unlawful acts and practices alleged herein occurred in the County of Alameda, California, which is within this judicial district. PARTIES 2. Plaintiff ADAM BLUEFORD is the father of and the co-successor-in-interest to

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Decedent ALAN BLUEFORD, who had no children. He brings this action on his own behalf ~d as co-successor-in-interest to his son, Decedent ALAN BLUEFORD. 3. Plaintiff JERAL YNN BLUEFORD is the mother of and the co-successor-in-interest to

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Decedent ALAN BLUEFORD, who had no children. She brings this action on her own behalf and as co-successor-in-interest to her son, Decedent ALAN BLUEFORD. 4, Defendant CITY OF OAKLAND ("CITY") is a municipal corporation, duly organize

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and existing under the laws of the State of California. Under its authority, the CITY operates th1 Oakland Police Department. 5. At all times mentioned herein, Defendant HOWARD JORDAN ("JORDAN") w~s He is being sued in his official

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employed by Defendant CITY as Chief of Police for the CITY.

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COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

capacity as Chief of Police for the CITY.
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At all times mentioned herein, Defendant MIGUEL MASSO ("MASSO") was He is being sued

employed by Defendant CITY as a police officer for the CITY OF OAKLAND.

individually and in his official capacity as a police officer for the CITY OF OAKLAND. 7. Plaintiffs are ignorant of the true names and capacities of Defendants DOES 1 through

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100, inclusive, and therefore sue these defendants by such fictitious names. Plaintiffs are informed and believe and thereon allege that each Defendant so named is responsible in some manner for the injuries and damages sustained by Plaintiffs as set forth herein. Plaintiffs will amend their complaint to state the names and capacities of DOES 1-25, inclusive, when they have been ascertained. 8. In engaging in the conduct described herein, Defendant police officers acted under the

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color of law and in the course and scope of their employment with the CITY. In engaging in the conduct described herein, Defendant police officers exceeded the authority vested in them as police officers under the United States and California Constitutions and as police officers employed by Defendant CITY.

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STATEMENT OF FACTS

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9.

On May 6,2012, shortly after midnight, Decedent ALAN BLUEFORD, an 18-year-

old Skyline High School student, and two friends were on 90th Avenue near Birch Street in Oakland. They walked towards Booker's Grocery and Liquor store located at 1944 90th Avenue. Plaintiffs allege that none of the young men were wanted by the police at that time of this incident before being stopped by the police. All three of the men, including Decedent, were readily recognizable as African-American, and all three were around the same age as Decedent. Although Decedent
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felony juvenile probation, none of the Oakland Police Department officers involved in this matter were aware of Decedent's probation status. 10. As the three men walked toward the store at the comer of Birch Avenue and 90th

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street, Defendant MASSO and officer Doe 1 in a marked Oakland Police Department vehicle, drove past them, driving toward Booker's Grocery and Liquor store and then suddenly executed a u-tr. Defendant MASSO and Officer DOE 1 then accelerated quickly and then abruptly stopped near

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3 COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

Decedent and his two acquaintances.
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Defendant Officer MASSO and DOE 1 who were driving the

patrol vehicle suddenly stopped, jumped out, and physically restrained Decedent and his two acquaintances. The officers began questioning them about where they were going and whether they had any weapons on them. Neither Decedent nor his two acquaintances possessed any visible weapon or contraband.
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allege Defendant Officer MASSO and DOE 1 detained Decedent,

and his two acquaintances without reasonable suspicion of any crime being committed. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant Officer MASSO and DOE 1 illegally profiled Decedent and his two acquaintances. 11. While Decedent's acquaintances were subjected to pat-searches, without lawful cause

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by Defendant Officer MASSO and DOE 1, Decedent fled on foot down Birch Street toward 920d Avenue. Unknown to Decedent, his two acquaintances, and likely unknown to the Defendant Officer MASSO and DOE 1, a minor non-injury vehicle accident involving a parked car had occurred on Birch Street near 920d Avenue. 12. While Decedent fled on foot from the illegal stop and detention, down Birch Strfet,

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Defendant Officer MASSO followed Decedent on foot. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant Officer MASSO may have had his gun drawn from its holster as he ran after Decedent. Plaintiffs allege that as Decedent reached a driveway just past 920d Avenue, there was a group of people gathering around in the street and on the sidewalk. Decedent turned into the driveway where he tripped and fell. A witness observed a small black object that appeared to be a small gun on the ground approximately 20 feet from Decedent. According to this witness, Decedent did not make any move to retrieve that object. Defendant Officer MASSO, who was chasing the decedent caught him and then shot tge Decedent three times. At the time of the shooting, the decedent was on his back, trying to get up. He was unarmed when he was shot. 13. Other Oakland Police Department officers arrived at the scene. One officer asked the witness to the shooting for a blanket, which the witness went inside her house to obtain for the Plaintiffs' counsel has requested information from the Oakland Police Department, in writing] pertaining to this incident. While the Police Department has refused to provide Plaintiffs' counsel with any information, the Department has falsely reported to news agencies that Decedent fired a gun at Defendant Officer MASSO. The Oakland Police Department has since retracted that blatantly false claim.
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COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

officers. That witness heard Oakland Police officers announce that they were searching for a gun.
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She then pointed out to police the object she had seen on the ground, approximately 20 feet from Decedent's body. Police then recovered the object on the ground, a small handgun. 14. MASSO. 15. The killing of decedent ALAN BLUEFORD described herein was brutal, malicious, Decedent subsequently died from the gunshot injuries inflicted by Defendant Officer

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and done without just provocation or cause, proximately causing Plaintiffs' damages. DAMAGES 16. Plaintiffs were physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially injured and damaged

as a proximate result of Decedent ALAN BLUEFORD's wrongful death, including, but not limited to, the loss of decedent's familial relationships, comfort, protection, companionship, love, affection, solace, and moral support. In addition to these damages, Plaintiffs are entitled to recover for the reasonable value of funeral and burial expenses, pursuant to C.C.P. Sections 377.60 and 377.61 27. Plaintiffs are entitled to recover wrongful death damages pursuant to C.C.P. Section 377.60 and 377.61 and Probate Code Section 6402(b). 18. Pursuant to C.C.P. Sections 377.30, 377.32, and 377.34, plaintiffs are further entitled t recover for damages incurred by decedent before he died as the result of being assaulted and battered for deprivation without due process of decedent's right to life, and to any penalties or punitiv damages to which decedent would have been entitled to recover, had he lived. Furthermore, under 4 U.S.C. section 1983, Plaintiff is' entitled to recover damages incurred by decedent consisting of pain suffering, and disfigurement prior to decedent's death. 19. As a further direct and proximate result of the excessive force and deliberate

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indifference of defendants, and each ofthem, Plaintiffs have been deprived of Decedent's financial support. 20. The conduct of the defendant officers was malicious, wanton, and oppressive.

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Plaintiffs are therefore entitled to an award of punitive damages against said individual defendants. 21. Plaintiffs found it necessary to engage the services of private counsel to vindicate their

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rights, and the rights of decedent, under the law. Plaintiffs are therefore entitled to recover all

5 COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

attorneys' fees incurred in relation to this action pursuant to Title 42 United States Code section
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1988. FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION (Wrongful Death 42 U.S.C. Section 1983) (Against Defendant Officer MASSO and DOES 1-10) 21. Plaintiffs hereby re-allege and incorporate by reference herein paragraphs 1 through

20 of this Complaint. 22. Said Defendants acted under color of law by killing decedent without lawful

justification and subjecting decedent to excessive force thereby depriving Plaintiffs and the decedent of certain constitutionally protected rights, including, but not limited to: a. The right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution; WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs pray for relief as hereinafter set forth.

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SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION (Violations of Plaintiffs' civil rights to familial relationship - 42 U.S.c. section 1983) (Against Defendant Officer MASSO and DOES 1-10)

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Plaintiffs hereby re-allege and incorporate by reference herein paragraphs 1 through

22 of this Complaint. 24. Said Defendants, acting under color of law, and without due process of law deprived

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Plaintiffs of their right to a familial relationship by seizing decedent by use of unreasonable, unjustified, cruel and unusual deadly force and violence, causing injuries which resulted in decedent's death, all without provocation and did attempt to conceal their excessive use of force and hide the true cause of decedent's demise to deprive Plaintiffs of their right to seek redress, all in violation of rights, privileges, and immunities secured by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to

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COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

the United States Constitution.
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Plaintiffs allege that Defendants acted with intent to harm Decedent

unrelated to legitimate law enforcement purposes. WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs pray for relief as hereinafter set forth. THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION (Monell- 42 U.S.C. section 1983) (Against Defendant CITY, JORDAN, DOES 11-25) 25. Plaintiffs hereby re-allege and incorporate by reference herein paragraphs 1 through

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24 of this Complaint. 26. Plaintiffs are informed and believe and thereon allege that high-ranking CITY OF

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OAKLAND officials, including high-ranking police supervisors such as Defendant JORDAN, DOES 11 through 25, and/or each of them, knew and/or reasonably should have known about repeated acts of misconduct by Defendant Officers MASSO, DOES 1-10, and/or each of them. 27. Despite having such notice, Plaintiffs are informed and believe and thereon allege that

Defendants JORDAN, DOES 11-25, and/or each ofthem, approved, ratified, condoned, encouraged, sought to cover up, and/or tacitly authorized the continuing pattern and practice of misconduct and/or civil rights violations by said officers. 28. Plaintiffs are further informed and believe and thereon allege that as a result of th

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deliberate indifference, reckless and/or conscious disregard of the misconduct by Defendant Office
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MASSO, DOES 1-10 and/or each of them, Defendant JORDAN, DOES 11-25, and/or each of them encouraged these officers to continue their course of misconduct and caused these officers' lack training, resulting in the violation of the Plaintiffs' rights as alleged herein. 29. Plaintiffs further allege Defendants JORDAN, DOES 11-25, and/or each of them defects in their training of CITY OF OAKLAND police officers
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were notice of Constitutional

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including, but not limited to, using excessive force, covering up the use of excessive force, and

COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

detaining people without reasonable suspicion.
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30.

The aforementioned

acts and/or omissions and/or deliberate indifference by hig

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ranking CITY OF OAKLAND

officials, including high ranking CITY OF OAKLAND Polic

Department supervisors, Defendants JORDAN, DOES 11-25, and each of them resulted in th deprivation of Plaintiffs' constitutional rights including, but not limited to, the following: a. The right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, as guaranteed by the Fourth to the United States Constitution; b. The right to have a familial relationship is guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

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31.

Said rights are substantive guarantees under the Fourth and/or Fourteenth

Amendments to the United States Constitution. WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs pray for relief as hereinafter set forth.

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FOURTH CAUSE OF ACTION (Survival action: Violation of decedent's civil rights 42 U.S.C. section 1983) 32. Plaintiffs hereby re-allege and incorporate by reference herein paragraphs 1 through

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31 of this Complaint. 33. The foregoing claim for relief arose in decedent's favor, and decedent would have

been the Plaintiff with respect to this claim ifhe had lived. 34. Defendants acted under color of law in detaining decedent without reasonable

suspicion, killing decedent without lawful justification, and SUbjecting decedent to excessive force and cruel and unusual punishment, thereby depriving Plaintiffs and the decedent of certain constitutionally protected rights, including, but not limited to:

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COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

a.
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The right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution;

b. The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees the right to a familial relationship, to the Ufited States Constitution.

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35.

Said rights are substantive guarantees under the Fourth and/or Fourteenth

Amendments to the United States Constitution. WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs pray for relief as hereinafter set forth.
JURY DEMAND

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36.

Plaintiffs hereby demand a jury trial in this action.
PRAYER

WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs pray for relief, as follows: 1. 2. For general damages in a sum according to proof; For special damages in a sum according to proof; For punitive damages in a sum according to proof; For reasonable attorney's fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Section 1988; For injunctive relief; For cost of suit herein incurred; and For such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.

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Dated: July 18,2012

LAW OFFICES OF JOHN L. BURRIS

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John'L, Burns, Esq. Att{J,tneyfor Plaintiffs

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COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

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