- Did He Go For the Gun? Day One of the Tommy McClain Wrongful Death Suit Against the City of Eureka
- McCLAIN TRIAL, DAY TWO: Emotional Day in Court as Officers Testify About the Moment Tommy McClain Was Killed
- McCLAIN TRIAL, DAY THREE: ‘It Should Have Been Considered a Murder,’ Slain Man’s Family Member Testifies
- MCCLAIN TRIAL, DAY THREE: Tommy McClain’s Parents Take the Stand in Tears, Speak to Their Son’s Good Character
- MCCLAIN TRIAL, DAY FOUR: What Does ‘Get Down’ Mean? Testimony Closes With Dueling Expert Testimony
CORRECTION, Saturday, 12 p.m.: This story originally reported that the amount awarded to the McClain family was $300,000. This is incorrect. There was some confusion regarding the the amount and how it was split. The correct amount awarded to McClain’s parents is $150,000.
Eureka police Officer Stephen Linfoot did not use excessive or unreasonable force when he shot 22-year-old Tommy McClain to death in September of 2014, a federal jury decided today.
The six jurors deliberated less than five hours before reaching their verdict about 5 p.m. They did find, however, that both Linfoot and McClain were negligent, with each sharing 50 percent responsibility. They awarded McClain’s parents $150,000, to be split equally between the two.
“We’re pleased that the jury concluded that Officer Linfoot did not use excessive force and that no constitutional right of Mr. McClain was violated,” defense attorney Nancy Delaney said after the verdict was announced. “We’re uncertain as to the basis for the determination of negligence.”
Jurors left the federal courthouse immediately, with the jury forewoman indicating to Delaney that she was reluctant to comment about the panel’s reasoning.
Police Chief Andrew Mills said the $150,000 awarded was “a long distance from the $10 million they originally wanted.” But Mills said there was no glory in the verdict because a young man lost his life.
still hurts,” Mills said, adding that his officers were put in
“a terrible position.”
“It’s time to move forward.”
officers were on surveillance in McClain’s Allard Avenue
neighborhood, looking for a “Most Wanted” suspect, when
they watched McClain have a confrontation with a man who had parked
his truck across the street. After that encounter, officers
testified, McClain adopted an aggressive manner and began fiddling
with something in his waistband. When they saw him take a gun out of
his pants and “rack the slide,” they decided police needed
to confront him.
had a short exchange with McClain, commanding him to put his hands up
and come down to the sidewalk. He initially said “You don’t have
a right to search me.” But he raised his hands and began walking
toward officers. At least once, probably twice, he lowered his hands
and was ordered to keep them up. The last time he lowered them, three
officers testified, he reached for the gun stuffed in his waistband.
Linfoot shot seven times, with three bullets striking McClain.
gun looked exactly like a semiautomatic pistol. But it turned out to
be an unloaded pellet gun.
father, asked how he was feeling after the verdict, said “I’ve
son didn’t deserve to go out like this,” he said. But the elder
McClain also said he was pleased that Eureka police were held
Bowman, Tommy McClain’s aunt, said they had just wanted justice and
were pleased with the outcome. She said she hopes the verdict will
stop similar tragedies in the future.
fought for Tommy and we didn’t sell out,” Bowman said. “Things
like this have got to stop.”
attorney Dale Galipo had argued that McClain was not reaching for his
weapon but had put his hands down because he thought officers wanted
him to get on the ground. Much of the evidence in the case centered
on whether McClain was hearing conflicting commands, such as “Keep
your hands up” and “Get down.”
jurors did not give much credence to that theory, nor to the
testimony of McClain’s housemate Nichole Mottern. She was “100
percent sure” that McClain had his hands in view when he was
said today that he was pleased with the verdict.
think the family felt they needed to go through this process,”
Galipo said. “I was happy (the jury) found at least partial
responsibility. The family is pleased. I think this is going to help
them with their closure.”
Barragan, Tommy McClain’s mother, said her hope is that this verdict
might cause police to review their “policies and procedures.”
so this doesn’t happen to someone else,” Barragan said.
will forever remain a mystery why McClain decided to pull a fake gun
on police officers with real guns trained on him.
One factor both attorneys agreed on, though for different reasons: “it doesn’t make any sense.”
THE TOMMY MCCLAIN INCIDENT:
- Eureka Police Officer Involved in Fatal Shooting
- Eureka Police Officer-Involved Shooting Victim Named
- A Gathering For Tommy (PHOTOS/VIDEO)
- The Death of Tommy McClain: What Happened in Wednesday’s Officer-Involved Shooting
- The Last Hours: Countdown to the Death of Tommy McClain
- LIVE: The Eureka Police Department Press Conference on the Shooting of Tommy McClain
- In an Eerie Coincidence, the EPD Peaceably Arrested a Man Brandishing a Realistic Toy Pistol Right Before Yesterday’s Press Conference
- Eureka Police Department Promotions Doled Out at Wharfinger Building Ceremony; Small Protest Outside
- DA: No Charges Will Be Filed Against Officer for Death of Tommy McClain
- Attorney in Martin Cotton Case to File Wrongful Death Claim in EPD Shooting of Tommy McClain
- Civil Lawsuit Filed Against City of Eureka, Police for Shooting Death of Tommy McClain
- Eureka Police Shooting Death Case Heads to Trial
- Evidence of Drunkenness Unlikely to be Admitted in Case Against Eureka Officer Who Shot, Killed Tommy McClain
Outpost contributor Rhonda Parker previously covered courts for the Times-Standard.