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Ruiz Family Suing City of Medford

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MEDFORD, Ore. — The family of a man shot and killed by police during an altercation almost two years ago is now suing the city of Medford.

In January 2012, the mother of 18-year-old Elias Ruiz called police saying her son was threatening to kill himself. When officers arrived, Elias Ruiz charged out the door toward the officers, armed with a knife and wearing a bulletproof vest.

One officer fired his taser and the other fired his gun, killing Ruiz. A grand jury later cleared those officers of any wrongdoing. Now, the family is suing the city of Medford, saying it was the officer’s negligence that led to Ruiz’ death.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Ruiz’ mother, Alejandra, says officers did not put a safe distance between themselves and Ruiz, and were not adequately trained to handle someone suffering from a mental health episode. They’re seeking $2 million from the city.

Medford Police say its officers go through a thorough training how to handle mental health incidents, and about 60 officers throughout the county have taken that training over the past two years. They say one of their main focuses is on how to calm down a potentially violent situation.

“This saves individuals lives, this is training that officers have received that has helped in the field to deescalate situations,” said Medford Police Lt. Curtis Whipple.

The Medford city attorney did not return NewsWatch12 phone message asking for a comment.

The family’s attorney is based in Portland, and says he has spoken to witnesses and experts in the time since the incident. He disagrees with the police account of what happened that day, but would not comment on whether he thought the grand jury made the wrong decision in clearing the officers.

3 comments

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  1. Annie says:

    This is disgusting.
    People need to be responsible for themselves. If they have a family member who is ill….physically or mentally it is the Family’s responsibility to take care of them.
    It seems to me that the person who called the police KNEW the man was ill. Maybe they should have taken him in for help instead of calling law enforcement. This was obviously a deliberate ‘suicide by cop’. 1 can tell by the vest & brandishing a knife. A law suit?? come on.
    It is very sad that people die daily. It is sad this guy chose to kill himself using a cop.
    It is sad the family did not have him committed knowing how ill he was.
    it is even more sad that the cop will have to live with this & on top of it have the family attack them after calling for them.
    Be responsible. Take care of your sick family members & stop shoving it off onto other people.
    Don’t expect everyone else to take care of your problems.
    Of course their attorney will disagree. Think! Money is involved here. People are responsible for themselves no matter what some attorney says. Sheeesh.

    1. Alicia says:

      Annie, sounds like this hit home close to you? Are you related to them COPS! All of us pay taxes and law enforcement are suppose to protect and serve. Not take lives. It is not about money!! Money does not buy his life back…everybody deserves a chance to live and have the support needed to survive in this wicked world of people like yourself.. Imagine, you losing someone close to you like your “Brother.” not the you have family.
      It is all because he asked for help!!!Should you blame your brother for asking help or blame you for having you as a sister.

  2. nns1@gmail.com says:

    I’m curious to know what tactics and or strategies were used by the police to diffuse this situation? The news broadcast indicates that the police receive extensive training in suicide prevention and handling mental illness, but was that training utilized in this situation? The police were called because it was expected that they would help diffuse the situation, they knew in advance that the caller was very upset and needed help. We are all told to call the police if you need help—this family did that, and they lost a child for it. I believe that this tragedy could have been prevented, if this call was handled differently by the police. Perhaps the police could have developed a safe plan to help this distraught individual, rather than recklessly shooting at him, on his porch, in front of his family.
    If your family suffered such a tragedy you’d want to make sure that this never happened to anyone again, you’d want to know that the police did everything that they were trained to do in these situations too—you’d want that too. RIP, Elias.

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