The family of a man shot and killed in February by a Sacramento County sheriff's deputy sued the county and Sheriff Scott Jones on Thursday, seeking more than $10 million in compensation for alleged constitutional violations.
Lamont Harmon, 47, was shot by Deputy Nathan Burnette in the early hours of Feb. 6, when Harmon, who had been walking across a Kmart parking lot on Stockton Boulevard in Oak Park, ran from deputies who purportedly wanted to question him about a stolen vehicle.
The department's version of events is that Burnette, a 10-year veteran, caught and struggled with Harmon and fired a Taser gun, which missed.
Harmon reached into his waistband, causing the deputy to think he was grabbing a weapon, so he fired his service pistol multiple times at Harmon.
The suit, filed in Sacramento federal court on behalf of Harmon's mother, wife and 13-year-old daughter, contains a contradictory version.
It says the deputy "shot Mr. Harmon with a Taser gun when Harmon turned to walk away. The first shots from the Taser gun did not penetrate Mr. Harmon's leather jacket. However, subsequent shots were fired and they did make contact with Mr. Harmon's body, causing him to experience sudden and significant pain. Fearing for his life, Mr. Harmon pulled the Taser prongs out of his chest and ran."
"Without any lawful reason or justification, one or more of the yet to be identified sheriff's deputies pulled their guns and fired 18 shots at Mr. Harmon, mortally wounding him," the complaint says.
At a news conference Thursday, several of approximately 15 Harmon family members and supporters alleged that the Sheriff's Department has been non-responsive in the face of questions they have posed about the incident.
Jones declined to comment on the allegations made in the court complaint and at the news conference.
"I understand why the family is filing the suit, and they have every right to do so," Jones said. "I would prefer it play out in a courtroom."
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