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Notice of claim filed against Santa Cruz County over Oct. 2023 deputy-involved shooting | News

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Ariz. (KVOA) — News 4 Tucson is hearing from an attorney representing a family who lost their son in an officer-involved shooting in Rio Rico in October 2023.

A nine-page document written by the lawyers for the parents of David Ramon Hernandez asks for $15 million for the unjustified shooting that happened on a quiet street in Rio Rico.

“Other forms of less lethal force are available,” said Charles Slack Mendez, the Hernandez family's attorney.

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office said David was agitated and had two knives and was shot by a deputy.

Mendez said Santa Cruz County radio recordings showed it took just three minutes for deputies to confront David before opening fire, adding that deputies could have waited longer to allow David to calm down.

“There are tactics that other law enforcement officers use. A lot of times we'll find ourselves in a situation where someone is barricaded in a home. Negotiations will go on for hours. They'll bring in their family members,” Mendez said.

“I wasn't home, but my mom was here,” neighbor Mike Reyes said.

Reyes remembers that day well: Her mother, who is deaf, was doing laundry in the backyard of their home near the scene of the shooting.

“She said she heard three loud bangs and thought they were gunshots but wasn't sure, and then police and paramedics arrived on scene a few minutes later,” Reyes explained.

But Mendez said medical help for David wasn't provided quickly enough.

“The fire department was only a block or two away, and my understanding is that it took a while for emergency services to arrive. In fact, there were even nurses nearby, but they were not allowed to perform rescue operations,” Mendez said.

Mendez said “they” meant the sheriff's office. News 4 Tucson went inside to speak with Sheriff David Hathaway but was told he couldn't talk about pending litigation.

Attorneys for the Hernandez family said David did not deserve the death penalty.

“He had a kind heart,” Mendez said.

There is no body camera footage of the incident, but Mendez plans to conduct his own investigation into the shooting.

This investigation by the Pima County Sheriff's Office has been closed and turned over to the Santa Cruz County Attorney's Office.

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