SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A man who became paraplegic after San Jose police shot him in 2017, following a psychiatric breakdown that led to a police chase was awarded $1.77 million by a federal civil jury earlier this month.
A federal civil jury found that two of three officers who shot at John Bowles in March 2017 used excessive force when they continued firing even after another officer said Bowles was unarmed, the Mercury News reported Sunday.
The episode began when a naked Bowles, experiencing a mental health crisis, chased a mother and her daughter, then went on a 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) tear through San Jose in his pickup truck, ramming a police car and hitting several other vehicles along the way. The damaged truck eventually rolled to a stop.
The jury found San Jose police Officers Erick Enderle and William Wolfe continued to shoot at John Bradley Bowles even after a third officer, Todd Ah Yo, shouted out that Bowles was not carrying a firearm. Bowles was later found to have had a caulking gun.
“It was a difficult case, but in the end the jurors found that when Wolfe and Enderle fired their shots, Mr. Bowles was not an immediate threat to the officers or the general public,” said Jaime Leaños, who represented Bowles along with Dale K. Galipo.
City Attorney Nora Frimann, whose office represented the officers, said the city disagreed with the jury’s finding of excessive use of force by two of the officers.
“Given his dangerous operation of the vehicle, including crashing into vehicles along the way, the responding officers were concerned that he was a threat to people in the shopping center as long as he was in the truck which he refused to exit,” Frimann wrote in an email to this newspaper.
Bowles, now 57, eventually pleaded no contest to charges of assaulting a police officer, evading a police officer, child endangerment, and four counts of hit and run. He was credited for time served — in jail and under supervised release — and completed a court-ordered mental-health program before he moved out of state. Bowles sued the officers and the city in 2019.