Large avatar carlos

Carlos Mejia, 44
Salinas, California
May 20, 2014

Agencies: Salinas Police Department California

Last updated: over 1 year ago

Overview Help icon

Two officers responded within minutes, and found a Hispanic man on the street with large gardening shears.

Officers told Central Coast News they told the man to drop the shears in both English and Spanish and that he refused to comply and began waving them around. They say officers attempted to use a stun gun but it was not effective.

As the suspect continued to ignore the orders of the officers, police said the suspect retrieved the gardening shears from his backpack. The suspect reportedly swung the gardening shears at the officers in an aggressive fashion. Police said those officers were in danger of being stabbed or slashed. In response to this threat, two officers fired their weapons at the suspect.

The suspect's name and age have not been released at this time.

Witnesses captured the incident on cellphone footage that quickly went viral  Tuesday as people shared the clip on various social media sites. A version of that video can be seen below:

The day after a crowd of protesters demonstrated in the street, Salinas police held a press conference to discuss the officer-involved shooting that has many community members outraged. It was the second fatal officer-involved shooting in less than two weeks, with both incidents occurring in broad daylight in front of numerous citizens.

But those explanations don't sit well with Jose Roberto, who's retained famed civil rights attorney John Burris, known for his work in police brutality cases.

Burris filed a claim against the city of Salinas on Tuesday, alleging wrongful death, negligence, assault, battery and civil rights violations. No amount of damages has been specified yet, but Jose Roberto and other survivors, including an 8-year-old daughter, are seeking at least $25,000.

Burris intends to file a federal civil rights lawsuit. "The decedent is the third Latino male to be shot and killed by city of Salinas police officers since March under questionable circumstances," according to the claim. 

The claim goes on to state that Mejia's body was left on the sidewalk for hours after the fatal shooting: "Claimant believes this was done to intimidate the surrounding Latino community."

Legal Action Help icon

May 2014 Police explanation of 4 Latino killings by police

July 2014 Lawyer seeks Federal intervention into the Salinas Police Department following deaths of 4 Latinos.

"The number of deadly force shootings in this time period is alarming and has caused social upheaval, dissension and fear in the community," Burris said. 

Burris said residents are concerned that police have adapted a practice of "shoot first and justify their conduct later" with responses such as: he reached to his waist, he lunged at me, he attacked me and others.

December 2014 Lawsuit filed

September 2015 Officers cleared of criminal charges.

A federal appeals court found that a civil lawsuit against the city of Salinas and two Salinas police officers who shot and killed a 44-year-old Latino man in 2014 can move forward, according to an unpublished memorandum filed Feb. 4, 2019.

Community and Family Efforts Help icon

May 2014 Protests by local community

Additional Resources: