A negligence lawsuit says San Jose police officers prevented paramedics from helping a dying gunshot victim.
Santa Clara County Superior Court Lawsuit claims that the decision to keep paramedics from aiding her contributed to her death
San Jose: Lawsuit alleges that police refused to let paramedics treat gunshot victimBy Mark Gomez email@example.com
This is a photo taken at Easter. At left is Verna Lisa Hollins, age 48, the shooting victim.
The complaint filed July 2 in Santa Clara County Superior Court alleges Verna Lisa Hollins' death was the result of the gunshot wound and "the grossly negligent and bad faith actions of the SJPD."
On July 14, 2010, Hollins was shot in the upstairs hallway of her family's apartment at 2125 Rexford Way, located a few blocks away from Valley Medical Center. A neighbor, Robert Turner, has been charged with murder and attempted murder for the stabbing of another woman who survived the attack.
John Stein, the San Jose attorney representing Hollins' family, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
San Jose police Sgt. Jason Dwyer referred all questions about the case and lawsuit to the city attorney's office, which did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Hollins' family, including her husband, John Hellams, and sister Marlene Anderson, claim that in the moments after the shooting a police dispatcher assured them that medical attention would be arriving soon. When police arrived they did not immediately go to Hollins' aid. The family claims they shouted at police and paramedics gathered across the street that it was safe to come up.
Police did not know at the time that Turner was in his apartment, apparently waiting for officers to arrest him.
As minutes passed, Hollins' husband, John Hellams, went down to the street to "beg and implore" the officers and paramedics to come upstairs and provide aid. The complaint alleges police ordered Hellams to go back inside the building.
On the day of the shooting, San Jose police told this newspaper that officers were dealing with a dynamic, potentially threatening situation. When officers arrived they found a woman bleeding from a stab wound on the lawn outside the complex, and with an assailant still at large inside the building, they were hesitant to charge upstairs.
At the time, Sgt. Ronnie Lopez described the scene as "one of those situations where we had to address the immediate threat before we could render first aid or medical attention. We don't want anyone else to get hurt."
Police and emergency crews arrived at the apartment complex at 9:57 p.m., three minutes after the 911 call was made. The stabbing victim was receiving care by 9:59 p.m., according to police records. Although the family allege officers waited for more than 30 minutes to help Hollins, police say they began treating her at 10:19 p.m.
Family members say San Jose police also refused to allow them to take Hollins to the hospital on their own.
A witness saw Turner shoot Hollins once in the chest in the hallway of their apartment complex on Rexford Way, according to a police statement of facts. Police were told by the stab victim that the suspect was inside apartment No. 12, located two doors away from Hollins' apartment.
What police didn't realize was Turner, 61, had been waiting calmly inside his apartment for officers to arrive, a roommate told this paper after the shooting. While Hollins lay bleeding, and with her family screaming for help, Turner put on a fresh set of clothes, his roommate said, laid the gun in a bag next to the front door and wrapped the bloody knife in a towel.
"During the 30-minute-plus delay, the medical condition of Verna Lisa Hollins continued to deteriorate because of the refusal on the part of SJPD to allow the paramedics to enter the complex and by these affirmative acts prevented rendition of medical aid," the family argues in the complaint.
The criminal case against Turner is on hold because a judge recently ruled the man incompetent to stand trial. Turner was ordered to a state mental hospital on March 28.
Original San Jose Mercury News Article Here: http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_21103872/san-jose-lawsuit-alleges-police-decision-contributed-womans
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