Family Sues San Jose Police Over Fatal Shooting Of Unarmed Man

The family of a man shot to death by San Jose Police back in January announced Wednesday it is suing the department over the incident after body camera footage showed the victim was unarmed. Devin Fehley reports.

Video Transcript

- --at 5:00, the San Jose Police Department hit with a federal lawsuit for a deadly police shooting. They say they were closing in on a dangerous suspect. The man's family says that's no excuse for what happened next. KPIX 5's Devin Fehely live in San Jose to break down the case for us. Devin?

DEVIN FEHELY: Yeah, police say that David Tovar, Jr. was a suspect in a murder and multiple shootings. They say they considered him to be armed and dangerous. In fact, that is the exact briefing that they gave to the officers who were involved in the shooting.

There's only one problem. At the time that they finally caught up with him, he wasn't armed.

- Hands up! Put your hands up!

[GUNSHOTS]

DEVIN FEHELY: Three San Jose police officers opened fire on David Tovar, Jr. as he ran along a second-floor balcony of an east San Jose apartment complex. They would later claim that they mistook a cell phone he was carrying for a handgun.

ADANTE POINTER: He never looked at those officers, never brandished a weapon at anyone.

DEVIN FEHELY: Tovar's family has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of San Jose, claiming the shooting wasn't justified and that he died a quote, "painful, agonizing, and torturous death."

DAVID TOVAR SR.: It was [? bad, ?] like the way they say that [? he ?] is.

DEVIN FEHELY: San Jose police would not discuss the case today because of the lawsuit. But in the immediate aftermath of the shooting--

- We're dealing with a very, very dangerous individual.

DEVIN FEHELY: --and in the days that followed--

- This person involved here was a person of interest in a homicide.

DEVIN FEHELY: --they had a lot to say.

- Tovar was a previously convicted felon and a documented gang member and was to be considered armed and dangerous.

DEVIN FEHELY: Police say the Tovar was a suspect in a murder, multiple shootings, and several violent robberies. The family's attorney says that still doesn't justify shooting a fleeing suspect.

ADANTE POINTER: They played the judge, the jury, and tragically, the executioner.

DEVIN FEHELY: San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo says the shooting raises a number of concerns, including all of the innocent bystanders who could have been hurt. In a prepared statement, he wrote, "I am deeply troubled by the body-worn video of the officer-involved shooting of Mr. Tovar, particularly given the surrounding residential setting."

- Devin, the investigation into the shooting itself, where does that stand?

DEVIN FEHELY: Yeah, with any officer-involved shooting, there are multiple investigations that run in parallel with each other. There is an internal affairs investigation within the police department. There's also a potential criminal investigation with the district attorney's office. Both of those are active and ongoing, and no findings have been made just yet.

- We'll see where it all leads. All right, Devin. Thank you.