By Kim Horner
The man, Michael Carter, 25 seeks compensatory damages in the U.S. District Court suit for continued pain from shots to his legs arms and abdomen. The suit charges that his civil rights were violated May 28, 1990, by the officer's use of alleged excessive force.
The shooting was deemed justified by the district attorney last year. The officer who shot him, Mike King, was cleared of any wrongdoing and is now a detective.
Carter's attorney, George Weingarten, charged that district attorney investigations can be biased because they are based on police reports, which contain the officer's explanation of an event and statements from victims and witnesses as reported by the police.
"There's a lot that needs to be looked into," Weingarten said. "Where was the hammer and when did he see it? If you're standing in the parking lot getting ready to get in your car and some fool yells "freeze," do you turn or do you freeze?"
Weingarten said he could not disclose his client's account of the incident.
But police issued a press release May 28, 1990 that said Carter matched the descriptions of a suspect involved in a disturbance with a gun in the parking lot of Ralph's grocery store at 901 S. Euclid Ave.
Carter was never arrested or charged with any criminal activity in that incident.
"King saw what he believed to be the butt of a handgun protruding from the rear waistband of Carter's pants," police said in a press release after the incident in 1990. Carter was "hostile" and the officer ordered him to freeze, according to police.
"Carter instead abruptly reached behind his back with his right hand to the area where King had seen what he believed to be a handgun," the police release said. King feared Carter was drawing a gun and shot him four times, according to police.
Weingarten said Carter still suffers pain and stiffness from the shooting but said his client is not on disability leave from work.
"Police have very dangerous jobs and have to make split-second decisions," Weingarten said. "But they're being trained to shoot what they think rather than what they see."
"If it were a private citizen against a private citizen, you can bet that person would be in jail," he said.
Police brutality has become a widespread concern since an observer captured on videotape the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles Police. The attorney said people are "coming out of the woodwork" to file suits, although many of them are never filed because of weak charges.
"After Rodney King it gives a lot of people pause to wonder what's really going on, " Weingarten said. "I call it the post-Rodney King Syndrome."