Culver City Police Shot, Killed Fleeing Man Experiencing Mental Health Crisis, Lawsuit Alleges

Culver City Police Shot, Killed Fleeing Man Experiencing Mental Health Crisis, Lawsuit Alleges
Contents hide

The family of a Culver City father has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit after a police officer killed him by shooting him in the back as he ran away following a car chase.

The wife and children of Guillermo Medina, along with their lawyer, announced the suit Tuesday, saying Medina was unarmed and posed no imminent threat of death or bodily harm to anyone when he was gunned down Dec. 18 of last year. Officers also gave him no commands before he was shot, and they knew he was experiencing a mental health crisis, according to the plaintiffs.

“The sudden loss of my husband has completely devastated my family and turned our lives upside down,” Medina’s wife, Adriana, said through tears while next to the couple’s three children, aged 11, 17 and 20. “I cannot believe that he was taken away from us when what he really needed was help. He did not deserve to be shot in the back. He did not deserve to die on the street.”

The lawsuit alleges Adriana Medina called the Culver City Police Department station around 1 a.m. on Dec. 18 to report that her husband, who had paranoid schizophrenia, was banging on windows while experiencing a mental health crisis. At the time, Medina was off his medication and distraught, and his wife was seeking help for him, family attorney James Simone said.

Adriana Medina pushed back on the police claim that the officers were called for a domestic violence incident. She said her husband was unarmed and did not have a gun, contrary to police saying at the time that he had threatened her with a firearm.

Despite knowing he was in crisis, the responding officers approached Medina in a manner that caused him to flee his home and lead police on a car chase, according to Simone.

The suit states that one unnamed officer said he’d stay at the home with the family until “the incident came to a conclusion.” Adriana Medina said that for more than an hour, she repeatedly told the officer to use the police radio to inform his colleagues that her husband was in crisis, but he failed to do so.


The chase came to an end when Medina crashed his SUV and the vehicle became disabled. That’s when he got out and tried to run away. Surveillance video of the shooting showed Medina as he fled. He did not appear to be running at a high speed, though it was unclear what happened in the moments prior.

Simone said Medina was slowly jogging and “laboring,” since it was impossible for him to run quickly due to a spinal fusion surgery. In the video released by the attorney, Medina comes into frame and then quickly falls forward to the pavement after getting shot. He rolls over onto his back with his arms splayed out as officers slowly approach him.

Witnesses said officers did not give Medina any commands before one of them opened fire, shooting him multiple times, Simone said. Instead of providing immediate medical care, the officers handcuffed Medina and left him on the ground for more than five minutes before rendering aid, the attorney said.

Paramedics eventually showed up and attempted to save Medina’s life, but he died splayed out on the pavement.

Medina’s wife said offers weren’t the first to inform the family of the man’s death, adding that her children found out about it through the internet.

“Joshua walked up to me, my youngest, and said, ‘What does it mean when they put a white sheet over you?’ That’s how our baby found out his dad was dead, and I had to explain that to him. Culver City PD, you should be ashamed of yourselves,” Adriana Medina said.

The lawsuit also alleges Culver City and its police department fostered a culture of excessive force by, in part, failing to appropriately investigate use-of-force incidents and failing to discipline officers who use excessive force.

The city said it could not comment due to “the pending criminal investigation, as well as pending claims and potential litigation.” The police department noted the shooting is being investigated by California’s justice department and attorney general’s office.  Culver City Police Department Sgt. Eddie Baskaron confirmed to NBC4 that the officer who shot Medina has not been suspended.

Baskaron added that the department plans to release “critical incident video,” as well as a recording of Adriana Medina’s call to police, in the coming days.

Medina’s family is calling for criminal charges against the officers involved in his killing. They are requesting a jury trial, as well as unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.

His family remembered Medina as a doting, hard-working father who loved his children and had a great sense of humor. He was someone who took his kids to school and soccer practice. Despite his bad back, he coached his youngest’s soccer team and was also a referee, all to be able to spend time with his children.

Medina cooked for the children and then went to work at night as a truck driver to provide for his family, his wife said.

“He was mentally ill and it wasn’t his fault. He needed help, not death,” an emotional Adriana Medina said.