A National City police officer who was shot in the leg after two sheriff's deputies opened fire last year on an auto theft suspect has filed an excessive force lawsuit against San Diego County and the deputies.
The shooting took place on the night of Feb. 16, 2022, after members of the multi-agency San Diego County Regional Auto Theft Task Force pursued a suspect into an El Cajon cul-de-sac.
Among the task force members was National City police Det. Rowdy Pauu, who was working in plain clothes in an unmarked car, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in San Diego federal court.
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After the suspect was surrounded by Pauu and other task force members, two sheriff's deputies responded to the scene and opened fire after the suspect got out of his vehicle while holding a knife, the lawsuit states.
The deputies fired multiple times and Pauu, who was situated behind the suspect, was shot in the leg.
The complaint alleges the deputies "started shooting without a warning" and at the time, "the suspect was moving towards the ground" and "had made no movement towards the deputies or anyone else."
The suspect was also shot and hospitalized for his injuries.
The lawsuit named sheriff's deputies David Lovejoy and Jonathon Young as the two lawmen who opened fire.
Following the shooting, the complaint alleges Lovejoy told auto task force members "that he saw Detective Pauu in his line of sight, but he fired anyway because he thought he `could make the shot."'
The complaint states some of the bullets fired also struck homes behind Pauu.
The lawsuit states doctors have been unable to remove the bullet from Pauu's leg due to the risk of exacerbating his injuries. The shooting has left him unable to work for several months, it states.
"He has been consistently attending physical therapy but will most likely deal with this pain and the reminder for the rest of his life," according to the complaint.