Lawsuit: Garden Grove Cops Lied About Lethal Force Justification in Shooting

Orange County’s Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse (Photo by R. Scott Moxley)

The parents of a 31-year-old man repeatedly shot and killed by police in a Santa Ana 7-Eleven parking lot in March 2018 are suing the City of Garden Grove and police sergeant Brian Dalton.

In a complaint filed this week in Orange County’s Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse, Ana and Luis Mora claim Dalton fired six shots through the window of a parked Toyota RAV-4, killing Erick Eduardo Mora Martinez, who was sitting in the driver’s seat.

Dalton’s shots struck Mora’s left temple, left cheek, upper and lower neck, and chest.

The 36-page wrongful death lawsuit alleges that Dalton committed numerous transgressions, including excessive force, battery, negligence and denial of timely emergency medical care.

According to the plaintiffs, an unarmed Mora obeyed commands to raise his hands and did not exhibit any real threat to the five present officers who’d boxed him in a parking space before the shooting.

But Dalton told investigators at the Orange County district attorney’s office (OCDA) that Mora “slammed his car in reverse,” struck one of his colleagues with an open car door and then revved the Toyota’s engine before he fired the shots.

In November, OCDA issued a report noting that police officers can use lethal force to defend themselves and observing “there is no evidence of criminal culpability on the part of Sergeant Dalton . . . whose actions were reasonable and justified under the circumstances.”

Dale K. Galipo, an attorney representing the parents, argued that Mora “never intentionally struck the involved officers’ vehicles or anyone else’s vehicles, with his car” and that it was Dalton’s barrage of gunfire that caused the decedent to lose control of the Toyota.

“The involved officers were not at risk of imminent or immediate death or serious bodily injury based on Mora’s actions,” stated Galipo, who also alleged that police waited to treat the wounds, conspired to concoct a false story to justify the killing and initiated “a blue code of silence” to maintain a coverup.

OCDA reported that the officers had been tracking Mora with a secretly placed GPS on the RAV-4 in hopes of catching him commit burglaries.

His rap sheet includes 13 arrests on charges ranging from vandalism, trespassing, drug possession, petty theft, burglary and assault on a peace officer, OCDA noted in the report.

An autopsy detected methamphetamines in Mora’s blood.

Attorneys for Garden Grove and Dalton have not yet filed a courthouse response.

U.S. District Court Judge Josephine L. Staton will preside over the lawsuit, which seeks $10 million in damages.

CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; earned six dozen other reporting awards; and been hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.

8 Replies to “Lawsuit: Garden Grove Cops Lied About Lethal Force Justification in Shooting”

  1. The cops from ggpd are piece of shits. Hopefully they get what they deserve. More people have to speak up or else things wont change. These dickheads from ggpd be beating up people inside. Same goes with the anaheim pd htting people inside. Racists white piece of shits in there treating people like crap in and out of the streets. Speak up people or no changes will be made.

  2. Justice be served. Speak up people or no changes will be made. The ggpd are piece of shits who beat people up inside. Same goes with the racists piece of shits in the anaheim pd beating up people inside and treating people like shit in and out of the streets. I hopr ggpd and apd get what they deserve. Speak up people and file!!!!! Or nothing will change.

  3. Yes, I witnessed a wrongful death by Garden Grove Police in the past!! Apparently, they are still corrupt!! The kid was only wanted for questioning, but he took off running & the police shot him in the back & wouldn’t let paramedics near him!! He never tried to threaten or harm the police!! Too me, it was cold blooded murder & then a big cover up! The family tried to sue!! Don’t know the outcome, tho. I hope they won!!

  4. Where the picture slammed his car in reverse by Mr. Erick, where police camera? any damage at police car or any thing else why they do not post is — All police in US protect by the judge. We are the people, law enforcement services by the people to protect, police are human too, care to die, care to be kill there body just like another human be. Ask what you can do for this country, don’t ask what human can do for you?

  5. Is chargers go way back you was and always will be a criminal and he had drugs in his system a close down all the streets there on Euclid Garden Grove to lampson the officers did their job and made the right choice

  6. What would you all do if there were no police and you had nothing to comment about? Pick another area of expertise and teach I don’t know, Doctors how to do surgery? Teach CPA’s how to understand the tax code? Teach the lifeguards how to REALLY save lives? Ah, it would be a perfect world!

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