Family of man shot and killed by CHP files $5 million claim against Long Beach

The family of a man who was shot and killed by California Highway Patrol officers on the 710 Freeway after he reportedly refused to drop a knife has filed a $5 million claim for damages against the city of Long Beach.

Ruben Escarrega, 31, of Long Beach, was shot at around 11:30 p.m. on May 7 after police were called for reports of a man walking in the lanes of the northbound 710 Freeway just south of the 405 Freeway, according to the CHP.

Authorities said Escarrega was holding a “large-size knife,” and refused to drop it even after officers used less-lethal rounds.

“The pedestrian charged CHP personnel in an aggressive manner with the knife, and an officer-involved shooting occurred,” the statement said.

But a claim filed on Oct. 27 by Escarrega’s family members against the city says he posed “no immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to anyone.” They also allege that officers waited too long to provide medical care.

“The delay of medical care was a contributing cause of Mr. Escarrega’s death,” according to the claim, which is considered a precursor to a lawsuit.

The claim alleges that Escarrega was shot by both CHP and Long Beach police officers, but the Long Beach Police Department in a statement said no Long Beach officers were involved in the incident.

The CHP declined to comment due to the pending litigation.

The Escarrega family’s lawyer, Dale Galipo, this week said it’s possible that Long Beach officers were not involved in the shooting, but he is waiting for more details.

Galipo, a well-known Los Angeles civil rights lawyer, said oftentimes it’s difficult to determine which police agency was involved until he files a lawsuit.

“Sometimes they point the finger at each other,” he said.

For now, Galipo said he’s still waiting for more details.

“We’ve requested the autopsy report and we’re going to be filing a lawsuit to try to determine what happened,” he said.

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Kelly Puente is a general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. Her prolific reporting has taken her all over Southern California—even to the small Catalina Island town of Two Harbors. She is a Tiki mug collector and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].