SAN JOSE, Calif. — A federal jury found two San Jose police officers used excessive force when they fatally shot a man as he experienced a suicidal breakdown in front of his home three years ago.
A six-member jury panel announced the verdict Tuesday and also recommended a $2.6 million award to the family of 18-year-old Anthony Nunez, the Mercury News reported .
Nunez's family called police on July 4, 2016 to report he had shot himself on the head with a handgun. The two self-inflicted gunshots were not fatal.
The officers said they were watching the home through the magnification scopes on their police-issued AR-15 rifles when they saw Nunez exit, twirl a revolver and then take aim at the officers, prompting them to open fire.
Jurors rejected the official police account that Nunez had threatened the officers before they each fired a shot, killing him.
A San Jose city attorney said that the city was not ready to announce appeal plans. A follow-up hearing was scheduled for July 11.
Sandy Sanchez, the aunt who raised Nunez from childhood and who would receive the financial award, said the verdict was validation.
"It gives us hope that other families like ours will have their day in court," a tearful Sanchez said outside the federal courthouse in downtown San Jose.
Police Chief Eddie Garcia defended the conduct of the officers, who he noted were cleared of criminal wrongdoing by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office in 2017.
"I'm disappointed with the jury's decision. I stood by my officers when it happened and I stand by them today," Garcia said. "They put their lives on the line for the community that day and followed their training."