Three Metropolitan Police Department officers testified in court on Tuesday in a civil suit filed by two people who were injured in a 2013 officer-involved shooting.
In day two of the trial, former officer Clyde Villanueva, retired detective Scott Thomas and officer Joseph Parra told their versions of events from the shooting.
Plaintiffs Angel Landeros and Amelia Villalba, who testified Monday, were negotiating a vehicle sale with Roberto Torres, a man wanted for attempted murder, when the three Metro officers approached them at an apartment complex on the 4100 block of Pennwood Avenue, near Valley View Boulevard.
Torres asked Landeros and Villalba if he could test-drive the vehicle, and all three officers moved in to make an arrest when they saw the trio heading toward the vehicle.
Both parties disagree over when Torres drew a gun — Landeros said Parra fired a shot before Torres pulled the gun out, and the officers said Parra fired in retaliation after Torres shot first. Villalba said she couldn’t remember much from the shooting.
Landeros and Villalba were both struck when police opened fire on Torres, whom police said shot his pregnant girlfriend in the head the day before. A bullet fired by Parra passed through Landeros’ arm and into the left side of his body, lodging itself in his spine, according to the lawsuit. A bullet shot by Thomas grazed Villalba’s ankle.
Torres was shot four times and died at the scene.
Investigators found a spent .25 caliber shell at the scene, but couldn’t match it to Torres’ .25 caliber handgun. Investigators were unable to recover the bullet
The suit alleges that police used excessive force against Landaros and Villalba, and violated their Fourth Amendment rights by placing them in handcuffs after the shooting.
Villanueva, who cuffed Landeros, testified on Tuesday that he was following department protocol. Landeros was only in handcuffs for about a minute before he was released for treatment.
Villanueva said he wasn’t aware of the extent of Landeros’ injury when he handcuffed him.
“You don’t know what someone can push through in an excited state,” Villanueva said. “You handcuff everybody.”
Villalba, who testified through an interpreter Monday, said she was handcuffed for hours before she was interviewed and released, but couldn’t remember interacting with any of the three officers named in the lawsuit. None of the officers testified to placing handcuffs on Villalba, and none could recall how long she was handcuffed.
Both parties are expected to make closing arguments Wednesday morning.