MEDFORD, Ore. — “There’s no question that… that split second decision could have been entirely avoided,” said David Linthorst, attorney at law.
The family of Matthew Thayer Graves, a man shot and killed by police at a Carl’s Junior in September, is taking legal action.
Graves was shot and killed when, during a struggle, a second officer showed up and saw what he thought was a gun.
It was a taser.
“Officer Cardenas has already heard gun, is it a gun? And Officer Cardenas is now unholstering his firearm,” said Jackson County District Attorney Beth Heckert.
In October, 5 out of the 7 jurors said officer Daniel Cardenas acted lawfully in his use of deadly force.
But Linthorst says the civil suit the Graves family is now filing isn’t about whether the officers feared for their life or safety in drawing their weapon.
“They see the events of Matthew Graves losing his life as tragic, but also unconstitutional and a violation of his rights,” Linthorst said.
He says the officer’s suspicions that Graves might be guilty of something isn’t enough to justify a stop, much less an arrest.
“We’re hoping to avoid, the family’s hoping to avoid… this situation created by the officer due to his lack of training,” Linthorst said.
Lindhorst says it’s about bringing accountability and consequences to the Eagle Point Police Department and to all law enforcement agencies throughout the nation.
“… better training for dealing with the mentally ill, better training on basic civil rights that citizens have,” he said.
NBC5 News reached out to the city of Eagle Point, but they declined to comment.
The family attorney adds that they are thankful for all the good people in law enforcement who have difficult and dangerous jobs, but they say when an officer is poorly trained or doesn’t know the limits of his or her authority, all citizens are at risk.
Stay with NBC5 News for more updates on this developing story.
Amanda Rose is a multimedia journalist for NBC5 News. Amanda graduated from Columbia University earning a Master’s degree in Journalism. She also received a Bachelor’s degree in English with a specialization in literature from the University of British Columbia. She’s a Los Angeles native, but is thrilled to return to the beautiful Pacific Northwest and is passionate about reporting on the criminal justice system.