San Diego

Family of Man Shot and Killed by Deputies Sues SDSO, Claims Deputies Ignored Existing Mental Disability

The family of a man who was shot dead by deputies in Banker’s Hill more than a year ago is suing the San Diego Sheriff’s Department and the two deputies who shot him.

James H. Lacey was shot and killed August 7, 2017, after he reportedly threatened to shoot two deputies who were trying to evict him from his 2nd Avenue apartment.

Last week, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office said the two deputies involved acted reasonably under the circumstances. Lacy’s family said Monday that more could have been done to de-escalate the situation and that their loved one didn’t have to die.

The family says the SDSO was negligent and claims the department, knew about Lacy's mental disability.

According to the documents released Friday by District Attorney Summer Stephan, the two deputies serving the eviction felt threatened by lacy. The report says Lacy threatened to arm himself with a gun if the deputies entered.

Deputies Sean Ochoa and Don Wood decided to enter. When they did, they say Lacy pointed a weapon at them. Investigators also said Lacy “moved a handgun in [the deputies'] direction.” Lacy’s weapon was later identified as a non-lethal BB air pistol or Airsoft replica handgun.

Lacy’s family wants to know why the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team, or PERT, wasn’t called before the deputies entered.

“Seems like they should have went in and checked the record of his mental status before they went in and did what they did,” Lacy’s brother Joe Jones said. “And we are very saddened today, that that had to happen in that way.”

The family said they hope leaders see this case and add more mental health resources for law enforcement agencies.

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