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Jonathen Anthony Santellana, 17
Navasota, Texas
November 14, 2013

Agencies: Harris County Sheriff's Office Texas | Navasota Police Department Texas

Last updated: 8 months ago

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The parents of a Houston teen who was fatally shot in 2013 by an off-duty Navasota police officer in plain clothes is suing the lawman's employer at the time of the incident.

Roxana Regalado Harrison and Joseph Santellana filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on Tuesday against the Grimes County city.

Jonathen Santellana, 17, was sitting in his car outside a northwest Harris County apartment complex where Navasota rookie officer Rey Garza provided security.

 

According to news reports and the lawsuit, Garza approached the vehicle on Nov. 13, 2013 with a gun drawn on Santellana and a teen female passenger. Believing they were about to be robbed, Santellana put the car in reverse to flee and was shot by the officer.

At the time, authorities including Harris County Sheriff's Office officials (who responded to the shooting) and then-Navasota Police Chief Shawn Myatt, said that Garza identified himself as an officer. The officer opened fire, they said, when the car moved and pinned him against another vehicle. According to the lawsuit, the girl in the car disputes that version of events.

The lawsuit alleges that Garza was acting in the scope of his employment as a police officer during the shooting and accuses the Navasota Police Department of failing to train its officers on "the appropriate use of force," among other allegations.

"There was no legal cause to justify the use of force against the deceased and the force used against the deceased was unreasonable and excessive," the lawsuit contends.

The plaintiffs, which include Jonathen Santellana's estate, are represented by Houston lawyer George K. Farah.

Navasota is about 70 miles northwest of Houston. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the small municipality has a population of about 7,400.

The officer was cleared in August 2014 of wrongdoing by a Harris County grand jury.

In a January 2015 Chronicle story about Harris County grand juries clearing all officers involved in civilian shootings in 2014, Joseph Santellana said that he hoped to present a case against Garza to another grand jury. Texas law allows grand jurors to inquire into indictable offenses brought to them by prosecutors or any other "credible person."

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August 2014 Officers cleared

November 2015 Lawsuit filed