The Metropolitan Police Department has been sued by the family of a man who was killed by an officer in 2015, marking the third time in the last six months the agency has been hit with a wrongful death lawsuit.
In a stinging civil complaint, the widow and son of 45-year-old Roberto Sanchez accuse police of shooting their loved one and then joking about food while he bled out on his living room floor, in front of his 11-year-old son.
The wrongful death lawsuit follows a decision last year by the Clark County district attorney’s office not to bring criminal charges against officer Solon McGill, who fired the fatal shots. It offers a version of events that contradicts the version previously made public by prosecutors in their review of the incident.
Plaintiffs Sofia Veladores and Rogelio Sanchez allege that on Dec. 14, 2015, at around 9 p.m., Roberto Sanchez came to the front door of his house holding a pistol because his sons awoke to a commotion outside on their front lawn. According to the complaint, the sons were unaware that police were there to detain their older brother and his girlfriend, “because the police did not have their lights on and did not announce their presence.”
“Their father, Roberto Sanchez, came to the door, with a handgun by his side, asking what was going on,” the complaint states. “Robert Sanchez had a pistol in his right hand, aimed at the ground, when he opened the front door to investigate what was going on.”
The plaintiffs allege that after Sanchez opened the door, McGill, who was there investigating a robbery, “without having identified himself as an officer, and without providing Roberto Sanchez with commands or warnings, shot at Roberto Sanchez within seconds of sighting him.”
According to the complaint, McGill continued firing after Sanchez went inside the house, and Sanchez was struck in the back by a shot that pierced through the closed front door.
“Robert Sanchez remained in the home bleeding out for approximately 15 minutes before receiving any medical attention,” the complaint states, adding that Sanchez’s 11-year-old son “watched on as officers joked about food, while his father was dying inside the Sanchez home.”
The lawsuit names the Police Department and officer McGill as defendants. The plaintiffs are seeking at least $30,000 in damages.
In a public presentation last fall, the district attorney’s office disclosed that a body camera malfunctioned and failed to capture the shooting.
The public presentation is a recently-established process. It is termed a “fact-finding review” but has no investigatory purpose, as the hearings are scheduled only after prosecutors have decided not to bring charges in police fatality cases. Rather, it is designed as a transparency tool to shed light on the evidence that led prosecutors to their decision.
According to police testimony at the hearing in Sanchez’s case, Sanchez came to the door of his house and threatened police, who were apprehending his son and two other armed robbery suspects.
Police say officers were uniformed, and there was a marked patrol car out front. They say they ordered Sanchez to drop his gun multiple times, but he did not, and instead raised his weapon. McGill, 36, responded by firing six shots, testimony at the hearing revealed.
A spokesman for the Police Department declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing department policy on pending cases. McGill currently works at the Northeastern Command Patrol Division.
The department also faces wrongful death lawsuits from the families of Abel Correa and Keith Childress Jr., who both were killed at the hands of police officers in 2015. Both cases are being litigated in federal court. In both cases, the district attorney’s office previously ruled that the shootings were legally justified.