LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Paul Valderas, a man shot in January by a Lubbock police officer, has filed a lawsuit against that officer and the City of Lubbock.
The $20 million federal civil rights suit was filed October 25, claiming the shooting was unjustified and accused the officer of excessive force.
On Jan. 26, 2017, according to the Lubbock Police Department, 31-year-old Valderas was shot in the 3300 block of Grinnell Street when narcotics officers were attempting to serve Valderas a parole violation warrant after several weeks of investigation.
The arrest warrant states Valderas was driving a vehicle in the 5700 block of Quaker Ave on Jan. 8, 2017 and crashed into a signal light pole. Police learned four days later two ounces of meth and a gun were found in the same vehicle at Lubbock Wrecker Service. Employees at the Lubbock Wrecker Service told police several people called about the vehicle and asked the employees to tell other people who called that the vehicle wasn't at their facility.
The next day, a K9 Officer found 57.70 grams of a white crystal-like substance, a digital scale and a cell phone inside the vehicle.
After the shooting, Chief Greg Stevens hosted a news conference in which he said Valderas was known to be "never without a firearm" and LPD said Valderas was part of a violent gang.
After spotting Valderas and following him to Grinnell, police say he exited the home and was talking to some people in a vehicle outside when police approached wearing tactical gear that identified them as police.
LPD said they shouted "Police!" and began giving commands.
"Unfortunately, Mr. Valderas quickly drew a firearm from under his shirt, from his waistband, pulled that firearm out and one of the officers who was attempting to take him into custody clearly had no alternative but to shoot Mr. Valderas," Chief Stevens said at that Jan. 27 news conference.
The lawsuit says otherwise, pointing to a surveillance video from a nearby home.
"The audio and video showed Mitchell [the officer] did not properly identify himself as a police officer. When Mr. Valderas realized Mitchell was a cop, Mr. Valderas very clearly disarmed himself by placing the gun in a nearby vehicle--inaccessible to his person," according to the suit. "Yet, Mitchell still shot and continued shooting without giving a single command."
Both sides agree five shots were fired but police say only three hit Valderas in the "upper torso area." The suit claims the other two hit him as well, with some of the shots hitting him in the back as he ran for safety permanently paralyzing Valderas from the chest down.
The suit claims the officer lied in his statement about Valderas being armed. Valderas' attorney, Daniel A. Dailey told KCBD NewsChannel 11 the most important part of the lawsuit is recognizing the officers who did not say Valderas was armed in their statements.
"We hope that from this lawsuit, yes justice will be obtained for Mr. Valderas, but we really do hope that the officers who told the truth, who are honest and continue to be honest are acknowledged and they are not ignored and they have some encouragement to continue to be honest," Dailey said.
Court documents show Valderas has been indicted for Felon in Possession of a Firearm for having a weapon on Jan. 26 and after he was convicted of Possession of a Controlled Substance in 2009.