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Family of Charlotte man killed by police in 2017 appeals wrongful death lawsuit dismissal

The family of Ruben Galindo, a Charlotte man shot and killed by a police officer in 2017, has appealed a judge’s decision to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer who shot him.

Galindo called 911 in September 2017, saying he had been drinking and that he had a gun with no bullets. He requested officers come to his home. After a brief encounter with officers, Galindo was shot twice and died steps away from his home. The gun in Galindo's possession did not have ammunition.

On Sept. 30, U.S. District Judge Robert Conrad ruled CMPD officer David Guerra perceived an imminent threat when he shot Galindo. Conrad also said because Galindo ignored the advice of a Spanish-speaking dispatcher as well as commands from Guerra, who yelled “manos” which means “hands,” there is no evidence that having a Spanish translator on the scene would have changed the outcome.

Galindo family Charlotte attorney Luke Largess, called Conrad’s ruling a “terrible decision.”

Former Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray decided not to pursue charges against the two CMPD officers involved. Murray said that Guerra and officer Courtney Suggs, who fired his weapon but did not strike Galindo, perceived a lethal threat and that the shooting was justified.

One of the key points in the wrongful death lawsuit focused on training. The lawsuit said “the city was negligent in training Officer Guerra in the proper procedures for responding to an incident such as this.”

Documents said Galindo had suffered from mental illness and that there was a language barrier when Galindo was ordered to “drop the gun” in English. The suit said: “Defendant Guerra did not know how to say the command in Spanish. He also knew that the decedent did not speak English.”

Copyright 2021 WFAE

At this point in her life, Sarah considers home to be a state of mind—not one place. Before joining the WFAE news team, she was hosting and reporting in the deep south in Birmingham, Alabama. In past lives she was a northerner having worked and lived in Indiana, Maine, and New York City. She grew up in Virginia and attended James Madison University in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.