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Women says San Diego Police shot her during mental health crisis

The woman was shot after locking herself in a bathroom inside her East Village apartment in May 2020.
Credit: City of San Diego
Photo taken of items thrown from 4th story apartment prior to police shooting

SAN DIEGO — A woman who was shot three times by San Diego Police Officers in May 2020 while inside of her East Village apartment in the midst of a mental health crisis is suing the city of San Diego and the officers involved.

In her lawsuit, Rosa Calva, who was 26 years old at the time of the shooting, says San Diego Police Officers who arrived at her Market Street studio apartment on May 23, 2020, failed to call psychiatric teams or conduct any de-escalation tactics before the shooting.

On that night, police went to Calva's apartment after police dispatch received calls that someone was throwing items from a fourth-story window out onto the sidewalk.

Credit: San Diego Police Department
Photos taken by officers at the scene

According to a May 2020 statement from San Diego Police Department, officers tried to talk to Calva from the street but she refused to follow their orders. In response, officers went up to Calva's apartment. The officers then used a key to enter the apartment.

Once inside officers discovered that Calva had locked herself inside the bathroom. 

Reads the lawsuit, "Officers did not utilize a Psychiatric Emergency Response Team or a hostage negotiator trained to deal with barricaded individuals or even attempt in good faith to convince [Calva] officers were there to help her. Instead, without warning, officers used the key to open [Calva's] door..."

Body cam video then shows officers using a sledgehammer to break open a large hole in the bathroom door. Moments later an officer shoots several rounds of pepper balls through the hole. When Calva did not come out, officers commanded the K9 to enter the bathroom through the hole in the door. That's when officers entered and discovered Calva holding a knife. 

Warning: The following video contains images and content that may be disturbing to some viewers.

Added the lawsuit, "Then-without any command to drop the knife, without any warning that deadly force would be used, and without any request by [Officer Mike Mullins] that deadly force be used- [Officer Andres Ruiz] shot [Calva] three times in the torso. Ruiz had opened fire less than twenty minutes after officers first opened [Calva's] apartment door."

According to the lawsuit, Calva was charged with assault but was not found mentally competent to stand trial. A judge in her case agreed to drop the charges after Calva completes a mental health diversion program.

Meanwhile, Calva's attorney Trenton Lamere says the shooting is another example of why SDPD as well as other law enforcement agencies need to implement additional resources when dealing with mental health calls.

"Our public policy has, unfortunately, put police officers on the front lines of a mental-health crisis," Lamere told CBS 8. "We're convinced that, if SDPD officers had the resources and training needed to deal with people in mental crisis, they would not have shot Ms. Calva, nor allowed a canine to maul her arm for a full minute after she was shot."

Lamere also said that adding to that, SDPD refused to release the documents and body cam footage until more than two years after the shooting.

"We're disappointed SDPD took more than two years to release the documents and body-worn-camera footage of the incident, after the apparent statute of limitations for civil-rights cases had expired, and only after the First Amendment Coalition threatened a public-records lawsuit."

The San Diego Police Department and the San Diego City Attorney's Office did not respond to a request for comment.

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