Shortly after a Dallas Police Department officer shot an unarmed teen last summer, there was a fairly simple explanation. The officers "responded to a burglary in progress," police said. They found 19-year-old Gerardo Pinedo Jr. inside the house and ordered him to come outside and lie on the ground. He complied only briefly before getting up and charging officer Jamal Robinson, who fired once, killing Pinedo.
Once again, a family member is saying that the police version of events isn't right and now has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Dallas and the two officers involved.
First off, Pinedo's father maintains that this was never a "burglary in progress." On July 17, his son walked from a friend's house to his empty, former childhood home, reportedly after a night of drinking.
Gerardo Pinedo Sr. says in his lawsuit that the 911 call resulted from a misunderstanding; a neighbor heard noises and thought a house next door in the 1600 block of Conner Drive in Pleasant Grove was being burglarized.
At the home, Pinedo Jr. was violently confronted by officers Jamal Robinson and Mark Meltabarger, his father says. "During this time, either Defendant Robinson or Defendant Meltabarger Tased Gerardo Pinedo Jr. in the back and the other continued the assault," the suit says, before "delivering at least one fatal gunshot wound to the chest."
The lawsuit also suggests that Pinedo may have been shot more than just once. It points out that medical examiners found two gunshot wounds on Pinedo's body -- one on his chest and one on his hand.
The autopsy report confirms that there are two gunshot wounds, though it leaves open the possibility that both wounds could have come from a single shot: "It is possible that gunshot wound #2 is a re-entrance of the perforating gunshot wound #1," the autopsy says.
Pinedo was also Tased, something that the police department acknowledged last July. A spokesman gave WFAA a complicated explanation of how it all went down:
"As the suspect charged [Officer Robinson], he felt him touch him on ... his arm and Officer Robinson fired once," a DPD spokesman told the WFAA last summer. "Unbeknownst to Officer Robinson, Sr. Cpl. Meltabarger was pointing his Taser and [Pinedo] was struck with the Taser in the back."
That police statement doesn't indicate how many times Pinedo was Tased, but the autopsy says that there are two Taser marks on Pinedo's back.
We've submitted our questions about the autopsy and the lawsuit to the Dallas Police Department and are waiting for a response. In the meantime, a department spokesman recently told the News that an internal affairs investigation cleared Robinson of any wrongdoing, finding that his actions "were consistent with Chapter 9 of the Texas Penal Code and within guidelines of the Dallas Police Department's Deadly Force Policy."
After the shooting, the suit claims, witnesses then saw the officers drag and prod Pinedo's body.
The full complaint is below:
Send your story tips to the author, Amy Silverstein.
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