Siblings of Hayward Man Fatally Shot by Police Last Year Sue for Wrongful Death

The city of Hayward, its Police Department and two officers are facing a federal wrongful death lawsuit filed by the brothers and sisters of 29-year-old man who they say was naked and unarmed when he was fatally shot by police a year ago.

The lawsuit was filed by the five siblings of James McKinney in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Monday, exactly one year after McKinney was killed at a Hayward hotel on July 6, 2014.

According to the lawsuit, police responded to a disturbance at the Phoenix Lodge at about 4 a.m. and were allegedly told by a couple who had left the room that McKinney, inside the room, was behaving erratically, appeared to have a mental disturbance and was unarmed.

A police team was assigned to bring McKinney into custody. The lawsuit says that although the door was barricaded from the inside with furniture, Officer Kenneth Landreth pushed it open and he and Officer Ricardo Flores entered with guns drawn and allegedly saw that McKinney was unarmed and naked.

“Within seconds of entering the hotel room,” Landreth allegedly shot McKinney once, and as McKinney was attempting to comply with an order to get on the ground, Flores allegedly shot him twice, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says the Alameda County coroner’s office determined that McKinney was shot with three bullets in the upper back, lower back and back of his shoulder.

The lawsuit alleges that McKinney “did not pose a deadly threat to the officers or anyone else at the time they decided to use deadly force against him.”

It includes claims of wrongful death, violation of McKinney’s civil rights, violation of his siblings’ rights to a familial relationship, and negligence. It asks for an unspecified amount of compensation to be determined by a jury.

Frank Holland, a spokesman for the city of Hayward, said city officials had not been served with the lawsuit and also said city representatives could not comment on pending litigation.

At the time of the shooting in 2014, a Hayward police spokesman said that McKinney did not cooperate with officers’ efforts to persuade him to leave the room, and that when police entered the room he allegedly lunged at them and attempted to disarm one of them.

Police Sgt. Ryan Cantrell said in a statement two days after the shooting, “In order to protect their own safety, two officers were required to discharge their firearms, to stop his aggression.”

A case management conference on the lawsuit is scheduled before U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson in San Francisco on Oct. 5.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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