The attorney for the family of Lompoc resident Krys Brandon Ruiz has asked the state attorney general to investigate his death.
Mr. Ruiz, who was 26, died during a shooting that involved Lompoc police, which asked the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the incident.
The officers involved in the shooting were Cpl. Andrew White, a 14-year veteran of the department, and Officer Mauricio Calderon, a 12-year veteran of the department with 25 years of law enforcement experience, police said. Both are on paid administrative leave during the investigation.
The shooting occurred during the night of March 28. Mr. Ruiz was pronounced dead at the scene, in the alley behind the 100 block of N. H & G streets in Lompoc.
The Lompoc Police Department responded to a report just after 8 p.m. of a subject with a gun walking northbound on H Street. The officers responded to the call.
Fresno attorney William L. Schmidt told the News-Press Monday that he plans to eventually file a wrongful death lawsuit in Santa Barbara County, as well as a civil rights, wrongful death lawsuit in federal district court.
For now, Mr. Schmidt is focused on involving the attorney general.
“Although there have been intimations that Mr. Ruiz, a 5’1”, 150 lb. transgender male with no history of violence, was armed with a handgun at the time he was killed, no such weapon has yet been found,” Mr. Schmidt wrote Attorney General Robert Andres Bonta in a letter dated April 7.
On Monday, the News-Press received a copy of the letter, which is also addressed to District Attorney Joyce Dudley, Sheriff Bill Brown and Lompoc Police Chief Joe Mariani.
The News-Press contacted Ms. Dudley, who said she hadn’t seen the letter. She added she always supports involving the state attorney general’s office in investigating officer-involved shootings.
“It’s always great to have another agency involved in this,” Ms. Dudley said, but added, “I’m not sure of these particular circumstances nor do I know if the attorney general will take this case.”
The News-Press plans to contact Ms. Dudley again after she reads the letter.
When told about Ms. Dudley’s initial comment, Mr. Schmidt told the News-Press he finds it encouraging that the district attorney would welcome the attorney general’s help.
He also said he would like Sheriff Brown to recuse himself because he is a former Lompoc police chief, which is a point he raised in his letter.
“We just want an impartial investigation,” Mr. Schmidt said. “We don’t know what happened.”
Raquel Zick, a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office, told the News-Press that the department has not received the letter from Mr. Schmidt and that all the mail had been processed as of Monday.
Mr. Schmidt told the News-Press that he plans to file a tort claim this week with the city of Lompoc for Mr. Ruiz’s death. After receiving a response, Mr. Schmidt said he will have six months to file the suit.
Based on information so far, the shooting was unjustified, Mr. Schmidt said. “We do not believe he was given a warning. There was no gun found. Krys did not like guns. Krys did not own a gun.
“Krys’ mother was with him an hour before he was shot, and Krys was in a fine mood,” Mr. Schmidt said. “He was not intoxicated. He wasn’t depressed.”