CHICO — The family of Eddie “Gabriel” Sanchez has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Chico and Chico Police Department officers Mark Bass and David Bailey in connection with an officer-involved shooting in 2015. The lawsuit claims Sanchez’ fourth and 14th amendments were violated and that the excessive force was used. Sanchez died in November 2015 outside of a home in Chico after being shot by Detective Mark Bass. That day, officers Bass and Bailey were attempting to arrest Sanchez who had been a suspect in two armed robberies in Chico. Of the three shots that were fired by Bass, two struck Sanchez. Bass was found justified for the shooting as an act of self defense after Sanchez raised a loaded handgun at officers, Butte County District Attorney Michael Ramsey said in a December 2015 press conference.
According to a 2015 officer involved shooting report by the District Attorney’s Office, on the day of the shooting both detectives claimed to have seen Sanchez reach with his right arm toward his left side waistband and, in what one detective described as an “exaggerated motion,” begin to raise his right hand with a black handgun grasped in it.
According to the complaint, in an interview with investigators that same day, Bass said Sanchez had been directly facing him and aiming a pistol with both hands. The claim by Bass is argued in the lawsuit to be contradicted by a 3-D video which demonstrates that one bullet exited through the right side of Sanchez’ neck; the other lodged near his right eye.
The complaint claims that two non-police witnesses told investigators that Sanchez was never holding a gun — rather a police officer removed Sanchez’ handgun from a holster inside Sanchez’ waistband and set it aside after the shooting.
In the 2015 final report, a witness, a 19-year-old who was crossing the street with Sanchez before the shooting, said that she did not see Sanchez draw a gun, but investigators determined she was not watching him but rather the detectives coming toward her. She did see the one detective fire his pistol and Sanchez fall, said the report.
The lawsuit states that while both Bass and Bailey claimed to have seen Sanchez point a gun at them, what each claimed Sanchez did with the gun differed — Bass told investigators that while Sanchez was running away, he rapidly turned around and aimed his gun at detectives. Bailey told investigators that Sanchez pulled the gun from his waistband and raised it to the right of his head in an “overly exaggerated” manner.
According to the complaint, when Sgt. Scott Ruppel wrote a report, he claimed that he had retrieved the gun from underneath Sanchez’ body. The sergeant’s report contradicts a witness’s claim that officers pulled Sanchez’ holstered gun yet Ruppel was never allegedly questioned by the DA’s officer-involved shooting protocol team.
In the final report written in 2015, Ramsey’s office cleared Bass, saying that because of Sanchez’ gang connections and his clear possession of a semi-automatic firearm, Chico police took appropriate and justifiable action to end a very real threat to his and Bailey’s lives.
The Chico Police Department told this newspaper that it did not wish to comment on the active litigation.
On Sept. 26, Ramsey told this newspaper that the DA’s Office continues to stands by the report that was completed 7 years ago.