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Press Release Judge's refusal to dismiss CPD police brutality complaint-rules officers go to trial

Updated: Jul 23, 2023


On Monday, July 17, Federal Judge Morrison England rejected Chico Police attempts to dismiss the case of Tyler Rushing, who was killed by Chico City Police on July 23, 2017, and ordered the case to trial. Thirty-four-year-old Tyler Rushing, in Chico following his return from a north coast music festival where he was a stagehand, was shot by a security guard and fled, bleeding from a chest wound, into a title company office where he was found by Chico city police officers in a bathroom. After demanding that Tyler exit the bathroom, City police, commanded by Sgt. Scott Ruppel stormed the bathroom, used a dog to maul unarmed Tyler, and then shot him twice more in the throat and back of his head at ear level. While Tyler was lying on the bathroom floor, officer Alex Fliehr delivered the coup de grace by repeatedly firing his taser into Tyler, who expired as a result.

In refusing to dismiss the case, Judge England adopted the 9th Circuit’s ruling in which the appellate court stated that: “If the jury concluded factually that Rushing did not pose an immediate threat because, after being shot three times, he laid still, face down with his hands visible in a pool of his own blood, any reasonable officer should have known that repeated tasings of Rushing violated clearly established law on excessive force.”

Officers Jeremy Gagnebin and Cedric Schwyzer, who, while present during Fliehr’s tasing of Rushing, failed to intervene, and Sgt. Ruppel, who directed the storming of the bathroom and commanded the scene, will also face trial, which will determine their liability.CPD Chief Billy Aldridge, then a lieutenant, also stood by yet did not intervene.

The Rushing family has fought for years to expose police misconduct in Chico and Butte County and welcomes the opportunity to bring this case to trial and finally get some semblance of justice for Tyler. Scott Rushing, Tyler’s dad, stated: “the emotional burden has been heavy, agonizing, and immeasurable, but my wife and I are not backing down in our quest to put the killers in front of a civilian jury of everyday people, to justify the gruesome violence they inflicted on our son."

The family’s trial attorney, Mark Merin, a civil rights attorney in Sacramento, stated, “this is a case of outrageous excessive force by officers who were obviously poorly trained, led by a sergeant ill-equipped to deal with a situation which required people trained to deal with a crisis situation. Tyler was obviously in distress and needed help, not the vicious escalation of unnecessary and excessive force which took Tyler’s life.”

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