Jose and Alicia Elizondo, the parents of a Garland teen who died on March 19 from gunshot wounds suffered after a Garland police officer responded to a 911 call for a suicide attempt, have filed a civil rights and wrongful death suit in Dallas County District Court. The 15-page lawsuit against the City of Garland Police Department and Officer W.M. Green seeks an unspecified financial compensation for the death of 17-year-old Ruddy Elizondo.
According to the suit, the teen had been treated for a week in January at a Timberlawn Mental Health System facility following a suicide attempt. Says the complaint, a physician there "concluded that Ruddy's mental illness posed only a danger to himself and not to others."
But according to the narrative provided in the lawsuit, close to midnight on March 18, the family called 911 after Alicia Elizondo found her son in his bedroom crying and holding a kitchen knife by his side. Minutes later, Officer Green of the Garland Police Department arrived and entered the home alone with his gun drawn. The sister, Claudia, says she witnessed an emotional exchange between her brother and the officer.
"Then suddenly, Green fired once and hit the boy," alleges the lawsuit. Ruddy fell to the floor, and, the complaint alleges, the officer fired "again and again."
Neither a spokesman from Garland Police Department nor Garland City Attorney Brad Neighbor would comment. "It's our general policy not to discuss pending litigation," Neighbor tells Unfair Park.
"This absolutely was avoidable," says Geoff Henley, the family's lawyer. The immediate cause of death listed on the death certificate is "gunshot wounds of the trunk." Henley believes the officer fired a total of three shots. Since most suicide attempts are a cry for help, Henley said, the officer should not have entered with a firearm. "You don't counsel somebody with a .357 Magnum," he says.
Henley says that the police reports he obtained from family members, who had to file open record requests to attain thems, have been heavily redacted. Reading from one such report, Henley recounts: "Green turned in the bedroom and observed a large Hispanic male holding a knife against his rib cage, and then, redacted, redacted, redacted, just a big black paragraph."
"We fully intend to go after them," said Henley. "Any way you cut it, this was an avoidable instance."
The exact sum sought by the family is still to be determined. "It's obviously going to be a very large sum based on a variety of factors."