Family of man fatally shot by Danville police file claim against town

Attorneys allege officer unnecessarily used lethal force in wrongful death

The town of Danville has been presented with a wrongful-death claim by the family of Laudemer Arboleda, who was killed by a Danville police officer at the end of a short pursuit earlier this month.

The claim -- which typically precedes a lawsuit pending the town’s rejection -- was submitted by the Law Offices of John L. Burris on Nov. 16 and claimed that police followed the 33-year-old Newark man without justification and fired upon him unnecessarily as he attempted to slowly drive past officers.

It was filed with the town Nov. 16 on behalf of Arboleda's mother Jeannie Atienza, and seeks damages in excess of $25,000, due to breach of duty by police, negligence, emotional distress and wrongful death.

“We believe that Arboleda had not committed any crimes. Our understanding is police were called out because he looked suspicious. Once again he was not wanted for anything, he had no outstanding warrants, he had not committed any crimes and officers had no information that he had engaged in any criminal activity,” said Adante Pointer, an attorney at Burris firm.

Arboleda died on the morning of Nov. 3 after a run-in with police in downtown Danville at the intersection of Front Street and Diablo Road.

Police say on that day they received a call from a resident reporting that a stranger -- later identified as Arboleda -- was walking around the neighborhood near downtown with bags in hand and acting suspicious.

Police arrived on scene and a short pursuit ensued, ending with Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Andrew Hall, firing multiple shots into Arboleda’s vehicle when he allegedly attempted to run down officers, according to investigators. The town of Danville contracts with the sheriff's office for police services.

The family's attorneys also allege that Arboleda’s skin color -- he was of Filipino descent -- may have factored into Hall’s decision to use lethal force.

“The officer, based upon physical evidence was not in the direct line of the car and had the ability to step out of the way, chose to use deadly force on a person he had no information had done anything,” Pointer said. “We don't think that the officer would use the same amount of force if the person was not brown or black.”

The claim itself also highlighted the practice of allowing police to fire upon moving vehicles, a practice that is not used by many police agencies due to the heightened risk of collateral damage, the attorneys argue.

The sheriff’s office was quick to maintain its position that Arboleda was driving recklessly and presenting a danger to police.

“This is a tragic case, yet once again John Burris is reaching for his well-worn race card. This is not about race. This is about a dangerous and reckless person trying to run down and murder a police officer. Once all investigations are completed, we look forward to sharing the full details with the public,” Contra Costa County Sheriff David Livingston said in a statement Monday.

Town officials deferred comment about the claim to the sheriff's office.

Arboleda's death was Danville police’s first officer-involved shooting since August 2001.

A civil rights attorney out of Oakland, Burris has become known for taking on cases related to police abuse and brutality. Past cases include the sexual abuse case of Guap v Bay Area PD, the battery of Nandi Cain by Sacramento police officers, the killing of Keita O’Neil by San Francisco police and worked on the Rodney King civil suit against the LAPD, to name a few.

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6 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2018 at 2:20 am

Typical John Burris. Ridiculous claim. I'm sure DPD has cameras and witness statements to prove the force was justified.

6 people like this
Posted by Reality
a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on Nov 26, 2018 at 7:33 am

@ Anonymous

Did you read the article?

DPD (Danville Police Dept) was not involved.

Danville has NO Police Dept.

12 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2018 at 11:24 pm

Yes, I read the article. I didnt realize referring to them as "DPD" would spark a debate.

Their website refers to them as the Danville Police Department.

Web Link

Their patrol vehicles say "Danville Police" on the side. Their shoulder patches say "Danville Police". Did YOU read the article? It mentions "Danville Police".

The article does not say they do not have a police department. However, unlike Pleasaton but similar to Dublin, their sworn members provide police services via a contract with the Contra Costa Sheriff. So yes, technically the sworn members are Contra Costa Deputies but assigned to Dublin Police.

Sorry for any confusion.

4 people like this
Posted by Ryan carls
a resident of Danville
on Nov 27, 2018 at 9:53 am

This is toward anonymous and your ridiculous comment to just assume the man shot is guilty and was in the wrong. You weren't there don't just assume the man was in the wrong when police time and time again have used unnecessary brutal force.[removed]

4 people like this
Posted by Reality
a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on Nov 27, 2018 at 2:18 pm

@ Anonymous

Actually this is an important detail.

I am sure that an autopsy has been done (By the CoCo Sheriff dept).

Another news article quotes the CoCo Sheriff stating that the Sheriff office is doing a full investigation.

With the CoCo Sheriff office investigating EVERY aspect of this terrible event, I have to question their independence, while trying to determine why this young man died. ( or are they coming up with a report to justify the actions of their co-workers?)

Hopefully the CoCo DA is investigating. With the DA there is some hope for independence.

4 people like this
Posted by Yeah
a resident of Livermore
on Nov 27, 2018 at 4:44 pm

Yeah is a registered user.

“The officer, based upon physical evidence was not in the direct line of the car and had the ability to step out of the way, chose to use deadly force on a person he had no information had done anything,”. Doesn't this admit that the officer would have had to "step out of the way" to avoid being hit? So he was in his car, aiming at a police officer and the claim is that he did nothing wrong? Try living in a cop's shoes for a shift or two, especially at night, and tell me what YOU would do.

4 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 28, 2018 at 2:11 am

Ryan carls, I never said the guy was in the wrong or guilty. What I said is I think John Burris' claim is bogus. Burris is an ambulance chaser who always throws out the race card. He too was not there but I highly doubt this was motivated because the suspect was "brown". I also voiced my belief that in essence, the investigation will determine the officer acted appropriate and within policy/law. I only say that because I have had experiences with DPD and they are always professional and dialed in. Yes, as you said, use of force issues are a leading headline these days. Because of that, I think DPD (who are likely aware of the scrutiny they face when force is used) would only use force when necessary while within the law. Of course the officer knows they are going to be investigated, interviewed, sued, etc so I would strongly believe they would only use force when absolutely necessary for the protection of their own life. Plus, I believe they either use body cams or squad car cams which of course would be reviewed. That's why I said I believed their investigation would prove the shooting justified. Aside from that, other media outlets have released witness statements that corroborate what DPD has released. It's sad a life was lost here but if the officer thought his life was in imminent danger, I believe he or she is within their rights to protect themselves.

You mention police time and time again use unnecessary brutal force. While I am not denying there are debates regarding use of force, when is the last time that has come up in Danville or Contra Costa County?

Like this comment
Posted by Anonymouse
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 13, 2018 at 8:28 am

There is body cam footage but the police refuse to release it to the victim’s family. You would think that if it was exonerated, they would have shared such evidence. I don’t blame the family for suing, they should be out there pursuing the truth.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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