Crime & Courts

Father files federal suit against city of Wichita in fatal shooting of son by police

Santiago Quintero, father of John Paul Quintero, joins a vigil for his 23-year-old son, who was killed by Wichita police on Jan. 3. Santiago Quintero has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Wichita. (Jan. 7, 2015)
Santiago Quintero, father of John Paul Quintero, joins a vigil for his 23-year-old son, who was killed by Wichita police on Jan. 3. Santiago Quintero has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Wichita. (Jan. 7, 2015) File photo

The father of an unarmed man shot and killed by a female Wichita police officer in January has filed a lawsuit in federal court.

The lawsuit follows a letter that Dallas-based attorneys representing Santiago Quintero sent to the city last month seeking $10 million in the death of 23-year-old John Paul Quintero. One of the attorneys, Thomas Bowers, in a Sept. 1 interview with The Eagle said the lawsuit would come if the city failed to meet the demand.

Last week, Bowers said none of the attorneys representing Quintero’s father have received a response to the letter nor a settlement offer from the city. The lawsuit was filed Oct. 21. It demands the case be heard by a jury.

Attorneys, in the 49-page filing, say that Quintero – referred to throughout by his middle name, Paul – was “unjustifiably shot and killed … under circumstances where no reasonable police officer would have done so.”

Wichita police responded to a 911 call from Quintero’s relatives saying he was armed with a knife, intoxicated and threatening others at a home on Oliver near Central on Jan. 3.

Police have said Quintero was belligerent, had disobeyed commands and was reaching for his waistband when the officer fired two rounds from a military-style assault rife, striking him in the left buttock.

Quintero’s father, who was standing near his son and officers, said the 23-year-old had his hands up and his back to officers when he was shot.

Quintero suffered extensive internal injuries and underwent surgery at a Wichita hospital but went into cardiopulmonary arrest. He was declared dead about six hours after the shooting.

The female officer’s use of deadly force was “unnecessarily aggressive … impulsive, reckless and excessive,” the lawsuit alleges – and illustrative of what it calls a longstanding departmental practice of allowing officers to shoot people “in the absence of an actual immediate threat” without consequence.

To date, the city has not released the officer’s name. She is referred to as “Jane Doe” in the lawsuit.

“There’s a pattern of violations linked to the city’s training and supervision regarding deadly force,” Bowers said, referring to 11 other police shootings listed in the lawsuit in which people were killed or injured between 2010 and February 2014.

Wichita police officers, the lawsuit alleges, are “trained and encouraged” to rely on force and threats to control stressful situations in lieu of other de-escalation tactics.

“Something’s got to be done about it,” Bowers said.

Jennifer Magana, an attorney for the city, said last week she had not yet received a copy of the lawsuit. She would not comment further.

A spokesman for the police department has refused to comment on the case because the investigation into Quintero’s shooting has been turned over to Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett for review.

Bennett, in an interview last month, promised a public announcement after he completes his investigation and decides whether the officer acted within the law. His review is ongoing, Bennett’s spokesman, Dan Dillon, said in an e-mail.

The FBI is also looking into the shooting, a spokeswoman for the agency said last month, to determine whether any civil rights violations occurred.

Confirmation of that investigation came after a group led by Santiago Quintero and members of Sunflower Community Action presented officials at the local FBI office with a nearly 3,000-page petition with nearly 90,000 signatures on Sept. 2, demanding a federal inquiry into the shooting.

He and others have publicly protested a perceived lack of transparency in the shooting’s investigation.

The lawsuit, Bowers said, “is so straightforward in terms of what we’ve been able to uncover. I think there’s only one result left.”

Referring to the city, he said: “We just have to see if they want to do the right thing.”

Reach Amy Renee Leiker at 316-268-6644 or aleiker@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amyreneeleiker.

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