BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The family of a man shot and killed during a deputy-involved shooting last year has now filed a civil lawsuit against the Kern County Sheriff's Office.
On Wednesday the children of Mickel Lewis filed a wrongful death lawsuit in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California against Kern County, and Kern County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Ayala for the shooting death of their father on October 20th of last year.
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The lawsuit claims that KCSO released a video where a narrator falsely says that Lewis charged towards Deputy Ayala and it claims the video never actually shows Lewis charging forward.
WATCH THE VIDEO IN QUESTION BELOW:
In a press release, the lawyers for the family stated: "Lewis complied with Deputy Ayala’s instruction to exit the vehicle. Deputy Ayala and Lewis engaged in conversation at various locations between and adjacent to Lewis and Ayala’s vehicles. Ultimately, Lewis returned to his vehicle and Deputy Ayala issued a command. Lewis started to comply with Ayala’s command and started to turn in the direction of Ayala. Without provocation and despite being unarmed with his hands up in surrender, Deputy Ayala shot Lewis six times."
The press release goes on to say that an independent autopsy showed that none of the shots struck Lewis in the front thereby disputing the account that he was charging at the deputy.
“The Sheriff’s Department claims that Mr. Lewis charged at Deputy Ayala requiring him to shoot. However, we know Ayala’s claim is false because if Mr. Lewis had been charging forward, there would be shots to the front of the torso,” said civil rights attorney Toni Jaramilla in the release.
However, in the video, there's a portion featuring a cell phone video from an eyewitness to the incident that contradicts that claim. The witness says on video Lewis did charge at the deputy.
The lawsuit also claims that as family members mourned at a memorial site they set up where Lewis died, video captures numerous sheriff vehicles circling the mourners and harassing the family.
A Critical Incident Review Board determined the force used by Deputy Ayala in this incident was within departmental policy.
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Read the Full Press Release: