The widow of an 80-year-old man who was shot dead by police during a drug raid on their home is suing for $50 million.
On the night of June 27th, Los Angeles County deputies raided the home of Eugene Mallory and Tonya Pate. Authorities claim they had probable cause to search the premises because they could smell chemicals used to make methamphetamine while standing outside the house. Police suspected Mallory of being involved in an illegal meth ring.
Mallory was asleep in bed when police entered his home. Pate said her husband has bad eyesight, and couldn’t tell that the men entering the house were police officers without his glasses.
What happened next is disputed by police and Pate. The deputies claim that Mallory pointed a gun at them, requiring them to take defensive measures. They shot him six times, and he died.
“Age does not preclude somebody from being aggressive toward deputies,” said Steve Whitmore, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, in a statement to local news. “The lesson here is, and obviously forgive me for stating the obvious, but don’t pull a gun on a deputy.”
But Pate maintained that her husband did no such thing.
“He would never point a gun at officers,” she said. “He was taken from me for no reason.”
Pate is suing the sheriff’s office for $50 million. The coroner’s office is also named in the suit; the office released Mallory’s body to an out-of-state relative, and Pate claimed he was cremated before her own investigators could perform an autopsy.
Police found no meth, nor evidence of a meth operation, inside the house. They did find marijuana — in Pate’s son’s room.
The sheriff’s department insists that the marijuana vindicates the raid.
“There was a drug operation that was certainly going on in this house,” said Whitmore.
All in all, it was a bad week of press for Los Angeles cops. One L.A. police lieutenant was arrested for soliciting a prostitute, and another officer has been temporarily relieved of duty after firing his gun in an effort to scare some kids who were bothering him.
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department did not respond to requests for comment.