Upland seal

By Liset Marquez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 04/03/14, 8:19 PM PDT |

UPLAND >> A man who was shot 10 times by police last year is suing the city, claiming the officer-involved shooting at close range was unjustified.

In a lawsuit filed in West Valley Superior Court against Upland’spolice department and three officers, Upland-based attorney Robert Schauer alleges the police officers used excessive force when they shot then 18-year-old Christian Rodriguez several times at close range, and that he did not pose a threat to law enforcement.

However, police said last year that Rodriguez was armed with a handgun when he was shot.

“There was no gun, no knife by their own admission,” said Schauer, based on police transcripts. “They made a terrible, terrible mistake.”

The complaint alleges negligence by police offers Craig Sipple, Nicolas Peelman and John Bonhus for failing to determine if Rodriguez had a weapon, and that the three officers had a “prior custom and practice to harass citizens and use excessive force.”

The lawsuit also calls into question the supervision and training practices in the department involving the use of force.

“I believe they need to review their shooting policy or either improve the training or change the policy. Do something so that this doesn’t happen again,” Schauer said.

Upland Police Chief Jeff Mendenhall declined to comment, citing the ongoing litigation.

The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office has filed charges against Rodriguez based on a report submitted by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. Officials in the District Attorney’s Office said investigative reports are not released while a case is ongoing. A hearing on the charges is scheduled for Tuesday.

The incident occurred March 19, 2013, when Rodriguez left his home around 1 a.m. after getting in an argument with his mother. The teenager approached officer Craig Simpson, who was sitting in his patrol vehicle near Greenbelt Park. According to the lawsuit, Rodriguez spoke to the officer briefly and then left on his skateboard.

“At no point did (Rodriguez) ever possess, brandish or threaten the officer with a firearm or weapon of any kind,” the lawsuit states.

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