SANTA ANA – The family of an unarmed 18-year-old shot and killed while running from gang officers has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Santa Ana.
Attorneys for the family, in a complaint filed Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Santa Ana, allege that Officer David Prewett used “unreasonable and/or excessive force” by shooting Steve Salgado three times in the back.
“This egregious shooting death of Steve Salgado has sparked outrage in the Santa Ana community and multiple protests organized by the community have occurred against the defendants,” Attorney Humberto Guizar wrote in the lawsuit.
Officials with the city did not respond to requests for comment about the lawsuit, which names the city, the Police Department and Prewett as defendants.
In July, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office found that there is “insufficient evidence” that Prewett is criminally culpable for shooting Salgado during a Jan. 29 foot chase in the 400 block of South Birch Street.
According to a report outlining the DA’s findings, Prewett and five other officers were patrolling the neighborhood around 4:40 p.m. when they spotted an occupied vehicle parked in the middle of an alleyway, blocking traffic.
Salgado got out of the front passenger seat and ran, according to the DA report, with Prewett chasing after him on foot while several other officers followed in their vehicles.
Prewett declined to provide a statement to the DA investigators. But another officer told them that during the chase, Salgado “maintained a firm grip on an item inside the right pocket of his shorts.”
According to the DA’s report, Prewett ordered Salgado to “drop the gun.” Salgado kept running, according to the report, looking back at the officers before Prewett shot him three times.
DA investigators recovered “poor quality” video footage from a security camera at a nearby home, which they wrote appeared to show Salgado holding something in his pocket as he ran and possibly pulling something out of his pocket and throwing it.
No weapon was found.
Police did find a bindle with “white crystalline powder” and a glass pipe near his body, according to the DA report. The report did not say if the substance was tested or determined to belong to Salgado, but it indicates that a blood test found methamphetamine in his system.
The DA report identified Salgado as a documented gang member. The shooting took place in a territory claimed by what the…