Man Initially Suspected In De Guzman Murder Seeks Damages

A Shelltown man initially suspected in the shooting murder of San Diego Police Department Officer Jonathan De Guzman is seeking damages from the city.

Family members claim SDPD damaged their home during an extensive SWAT standoff that began soon after suspected gang members shot and killed De Guzman and seriously injured his partner, Officer Wade Irwin.

The San Diego Reader first reported on the claims after obtaining them through a routine public records request with the city.

De Guzman and Irwin were on gang suppression patrol when they attempted to make contact with Jesse Michael Gomez, 52, and another man. Gomez shot at the officers and both took off, prosecutors say. In the minutes after the shooting, seriously-injured Irwin identified Marcus Cassani as a potential suspect.

Police found Gomez, bleeding from gunshot wounds, in a nearby ravine about half an hour after the July 29 fatal officer-involved shooting.

During the manhunt that followed, police and SWAT officers surrounded Cassani's family home on Epsilon Street around 6 a.m. They called into the home on a bullhorn and fired pepper balls into the house, trying to convince Cassani to come out.

It was later determined Cassani was not in the home police surrounded.

"They were doing their job," said a neighbor who remembered the long summer day very well. "It was very controlled. Nobody was running like hot-headed. And it must have been very difficult because an officer had been shot and people forget that part."

Around noon, Marcus Cassani finally called police on the phone, and told them they could pick him up at a nearby Northgate market. Police arrested Cassani nearby on an outstanding narcotics warrant, but eventually cleared of being involved in the murder and attempted murder.

Neighbor Deborah Pasco said she almost wrote District Bonnie Dumanis a letter praising the professionalism of the SWAT officers at the Epsilon home.

"I was gonna say that I was proud of our police force under such stressful circumstances to do a good job," Pasco told NBC 7.

Pasco said the Cassani's home was badly damaged and an NBC 7 reporter spoke to Cassani's sister the day after the standoff while she was cleaning up glass windows that had been broken during the standoff. 

Marissa Cassani told NBC 7 off-camera on July 30 that the ordeal was very stressful and she did not know where Marcus was during the standoff.

The neighbor said she thought even though police did nothing wrong, Cassani's grandfather shouldn't have to pay for the damages.

"I guess if the homeowner's insurance will not pay, somebody has to because he's an old retired veteran and he doesn't deserve to have his house shot up," Pasco said.

San Diego Risk Management Department Director Julio Canizal confirmed the city was aware of the family's six claims.

“The City has received the claim and corresponded with the claimants' attorney,” Canizal said in a written email statement.

The claimants also accuse SDPD of false detainment. Police were asking family members at the home near Epsilon and 41st to remain on the scene and help them contact Marcus.

Family members at Cassani's home Friday declined an interview request. It remains unclear why Cassani did not tell police where he was before the standoff stretched on for more than six hours.

The second suspect in De Guzman's murder was never identified or apprehended.

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