City of Salinas to pay more than $2 million in police shooting case.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
In July 2008, Salinas police officers were called to help 45-year old Maria Irma De la Torre, who was in a parked van reportedly "acting crazy", and stabbing herself with a safety pin.
Instead, one of them, Officer Steve Mattocks, fatally shot De la Torre because as she emerged from the van, he believed she was coming at his partner with what looked like an ice pick, according to a statement by the Salinas city attorney's office. De la Torre, was actually brandishing a five-inch crochet hook. She had suffered from epilepsy most of her life, and the resulting seizures made her appear to be aggressive, according to the statement.
The settlement—with De la Torre's mother and husband— was approved in a closed City Council session Oct. 19. The city will pay $650,000; the rest will be covered by insurance. The Monterey County District Attorney's office investigated the case, and cleared Mattocks of criminal wrongdoing.
The city's statement notes that Salinas Police Chief Louis Fetherolf says the department continues to train its officers to deal with the mentally ill.