A personal injury lawsuit has been filed against the city of Santa Maria, California by the family of a police officer who was killed by another police officer. The police officer was killed at a DUI (driving under the influence) checkpoint on Saturday, January 28, 2012 as other police officers attempted to arrest him.
The police officer, 29-year-old Albert Covarrubias, was a four year veteran of the Santa Maria police department. Covarrubias was being investigated by the Santa Maria police department for an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old minor who was working at the police department.
Covarrubias had just learned that he was being investigated. The police officer threatened to kill himself.
Santa Maria police Chief Danny Macagni said that it became necessary to arrest Covarrubias, immediately. In a statement Macagni said, “We had no choice.” He said investigators had evidence “that demanded that we go out and take this officer off the street immediately.”
Macagni said that he was not able to give any details because of the sensitivity of the investigation. However, he said “there was some witness intimidation involved.” He said the arrest could not wait for a more proper place or time.
Macagni said, “The information that we had in hand demanded that we not let him leave that scene, get in a car, drive somewhere, it would put the public at risk. We just did not know what was going to happen, we did not expect him to react the way that he did.”
Tried to arrest
It is alleged that as Sgt. Chris Nartatez tried to arrest his fellow police officer, Covarrubias took his gun from his holster and fired at Nartatez. This led to a struggle between Covarrubias and two on-duty police officers.
Police officer Matthew Kline was a witness to the struggle and shot Covarrubias three times. Covarrubias died later that night after emergency surgery.
There was a long investigation of the incident. It was the ruling of the local district attorney that Kline had reacted in an appropriate way to a “life-threatening situation”. He ruled that Kline would not be charged for what he did.
Violated several laws
The family of Covarrubias think that the police department violated several laws in the investigation and arrest of their family member. The family also believes that the exoneration of officer Kline was a politically motivated decision.
The family believes that the “investigation was conducted with a pre-determined outcome clearing the city and its officials of any wrong doing. The attorney for the family said that the investigation represented an “attempt to protect officials at the highest levels of the police department.”
In the personal injury lawsuit that was filed July 10, 2012, the family of officer Covarrubias is only asking for $10,000 compensation. However, there are sources that indicate that the family has filed this personal injury lawsuit to set the stage for a far greater wrongful death lawsuit in a few more months.
If you believe that you family member or loved one was the victim of a wrongful death, you should contact a personal injury attorney.