The family of a man who killed a Mission police officer in 2019 is suing the city for damages in federal court, alleging they violated their son’s constitutional rights in the incident that also resulted in his death.
Josie Chapa and Juan Chapa filed a lawsuit Monday against the city and three police officers. The suit alleges they used excessive and deadly force against their son, Juan Carlos Chapa, during a 2019 shootout with Mission police. That incident resulted in the death of both Chapa and Mission Cpl. Jose “Speedy” Espericueta.
The lawsuit alleges that the city and the officers violated Chapa’s constitutional rights by the use of deadly or excessive force, failing to intervene to prevent Juan Carlos Chapa’s death, acting with indifference to the shooter’s mental and medical needs after being shot.
According to the complaint, Juan Carlos Chapa called his mother on July 20, 2019 for her “to come and pay for a coke at an Auto Zone down the street.”
“She did so, paid for the coke and spoke to her son, who was in obvious distress and having emotional and mental health problems,” the complaint stated.
Based on his behavior, Josie Chapa instructed her son to walk home and she then drove off. A few blocks away, she noticed an officer parked on the side of the road so she stopped to speak with him. She informed the officer where her son was walking, telling the officer that her son was in distress and needed help.
Shortly after that, the officers then located Juan Carlos Chapa, allegedly chased him and fired upon him as he was allegedly running away.
There was more gunfire, though the family says it came from the officers and “perhaps” from Juan Carlos Chapa as well.
“ As a result of same, both Juan Carlos and an officer lost their lives,” the complaint stated, referring to Espericueta.
The city’s official narrative of the event alleges that Chapa fled when Espericueta attempted to make contact but then turned around and began firing. In the ensuing alleged exchange of gunfire between Chapa and the responding officers, both Espericueta and the Chapa were fatally wounded.
But the family argued that while the city and the police officers were quick to obtain medical attention for Espericueta, they allegedly were indifferent to Chapa’s medical needs and “extremely slow to respond, reluctant to secure medical assistance and appreciative of the certain death of Juan Carlos.”
For those alleged actions, Chapa’s family is seeking damages from the city for “both physical and emotional injury, including but not limited to, pain and suffering, emotional and mental distress, and personal humiliation and shock, along with severe emotional distress.”
Those injuries, according to the family, caused the family to incur damages such as funeral and burial expenses. They are also seeking punitive damages for the city’s alleged wrongdoings.
The city of Mission had not been served with the lawsuit as of Monday afternoon, according to city spokeswoman Roxanne Lerma-Casares, who added the city “does not comment on any pending or potential litigation.”
This is not the first time the Chapa family has taken the city of Mission to court.
In December 2020, the family sued the city for all records the city had on that deadly incident.
A state district judge ordered the city to turn over the records but granted the city’s request for a protective order which prevents the family from distributing the information to the public.