A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that six San Diego police officers — including Dave Nisleit, recently appointed chief — violated the civil rights of a man they mistakenly held at gunpoint while investigating a death threat in City Heights three years ago.
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns ruled that a jury should decide whether officers were guilty of unreasonable seizure and excessive force on Sept. 9, 2014, when they trained their guns on Demetrice Sightler after he walked onto his balcony, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
“The court is reluctant to expose officers to liability when they answer an emergency call under the belief that a fellow citizen has a gun held to her head,” Burns wrote in his order, dated March 28. “At the same time, fellow citizens shouldn’t have to experience the terror of an AR-15 pointed at them for ten minutes on a fall afternoon — especially when they are at home.”
Police were called to an apartment complex on Lemona Avenue by a woman who said her son was threatening to shoot his girlfriend. She identified him as a 26-year-old black man living in apartment No. 5. As police gathered outside, Sightler, 33, and also black, went onto his balcony off apartment No. 3, looking for his girlfriend.