Lawsuit Accuses Officer of Tickling Feet of Unarmed Man Killed by Police
BAKERSFIELD, Calif., June 3 (UPI) — The family of an unarmed man shot to death by Bakersfield, Calif., police filed a civil rights lawsuit alleging one officer tickled the dead man’s feet.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Kern County, said Bakersfield police Officer Aaron Stringer touched the feet of Ramiro James Villegas while his body was in the coroner’s office after being shot by police Nov. 13.
A trainee who was also at the office in the Kern Medical Center told her superiors she was disturbed by Stringer’s actions. He commented that he “loves playing with dead bodies” and said “tickle, tickle” as he touched Villegas’ feet.
“It shows a degrading and despicable view toward human life,” Ben Meiselas, an attorney representing Villegas’ family, told the Los Angeles Times.
The lawsuit calls Stringer’s actions “morally repugnant and wholly disrespectful.”
In addition to Stringer, four other police officers were named in the lawsuit for the wrongful death of Villegas. The 22-year-old was shot after he led police on a chase and crashed a vehicle into a light pole.
Police said Villegas reached for his waistband when he was shot, but multiple witnesses said he had his hands up and did not provoke police when he was shot.
“He raised his hands in the air, demonstrating that he had no weapon, and was not physically threatening the officers. Numerous eyewitness accounts and video recorded at the scene confirm that James was not threatening the safety of any of the officers present or attempting to reach for a weapon,” the lawsuit says.
“The officers fired nine shots at James from a distance of at least 10 feet,” the complaint continues. “Five rounds struck James, including one bullet through his left forehead, which fractured his skull and lacerated his brain, and another piercing his groin area.”
Villegas’ family alleges that in the 30 minutes it took for him to die, police failed to give him first aid.