Civil rights lawsuit filed against Phoenix police officer - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Civil rights lawsuit filed against Phoenix police officer

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A new lawsuit has been filed in the case of a fatal shooting involving a Phoenix police officer.

This past summer, a judge removed the city from another case that also named former Officer Richard Chrisman.

He's accused of shooting to death an unarmed man while responding to a domestic disturbance call in October 2010 and is facing a second-degree murder charge.

The parents of Daniel Rodriguez are now suing Phoenix police Officer Sergio Virgillo, who also responded to the call.

While he did not pull the trigger, attorneys for Elvira Fernandez and Frank Rodriquez said Virgillo violated their son's civil rights.

The lawsuit hinges on four claims, including one that Virgillo violated Rodriguez's Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unlawful entries into his home and to be free from the unreasonable use of force.

Papers initially filed with Maricopa County Superior Court state Rodriguez owned the trailer Chrisman and Virgillo entered without invitation, despite evidence of a crime, and that they refused to leave when asked.

While Chrisman is accused of firing the fatal shot, Virgillo also reportedly used a stun gun on Rodriguez.

According to the plaintiffs' attorneys, he did so to "stop Officer Chrisman from continuing to use unreasonable force against Rodriguez" instead of trying to physically restrain Chrisman.

Because of this, they claim Virgillo violated Rodriguez's right to be free from use of unreasonable force by failure to intervene.

Virgillo told investigators he "felt in his heart that Chrisman was going to shoot Rodriguez" and that he turned away to get out of the "danger zone."

The lawsuit also states Virgillo violated the rights of Rodriguez's parents, under the 14th Amendment, to be free from interference with their rights to family society and companionship with their son.

Rodriguez's parents are now seeking exemplary and punitive damages.

Virgillo's attorney has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in federal court, claiming, "The complaint fails to allege specific facts demonstrating an actionable constitutional violation against Officer Virgillo based on his mere presence at the scene of the shooting incident involving a fellow officer."

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