A Tucson woman has filed a $2 million claim against the police department, saying officers used excessive force when they shot and killed her BB gun-wielding son in May.
The claim, filed on behalf of Angelina Zimmerman, said Tucson police officers Francisco Magos and Timothy Anderson were negligent and used excessive physical force when they shot and killed Joseph Zimmerman on May 26.
Zimmerman went for a walk on the night in question, ending up in the South Lawn Cemetery, located at 5401 S. Park Ave., after which officers “opened fire on Mr. Zimmerman, causing his death,” according to the claim.
Police were not justified in using physical force on Zimmerman because the situation didn’t meet all of the statutory criteria, the claim said.
Because Zimmerman had a BB gun and not a “lethal weapon” at the time he was shot, the use of force by officers was “disproportionate to the need to prevent escape or protect persons on the scene,” the claim said.
Tucson police said Zimmerman pointed a gun at police when they responded to reports of a suicidal man at the cemetery, according to a news release issued after the shooting.
TPD received a 911 call from a man at the cemetery who said he had a gun and was suicidal. Officers trained in crisis intervention responded to the scene and negotiators unsuccessfully tried to talk to Zimmerman on his cellphone and over a public address system, during which he threw down his phone and approached police with a gun to his head, the release said.
Officers gave Zimmerman multiple commands to put down his gun, but he refused and pointed it toward officers, after which Magos and Anderson fired at him, the release said.
TPD failed to properly train its officers on appropriate use of force, including deadly force, resulting in Zimmerman’s death, the claim said.
The damages associated with Zimmerman’s death include medical expenses, funeral expenses, consequential damages, attorneys fees and pain and suffering, the claim said.
City Attorney Mike Rankin has previously told the Star that he is unable to comment on pending litigation. Angelina Zimmerman’s attorney, Lisa Kimmel, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The city has 60 days from the date of filing to settle the claim, before Angelina Zimmerman is free to file a lawsuit in Pima County Superior Court.