Justice has prevailed in another case of an unjustified police shooting. Civil rights firm Haddad & Sherwin LLP have won a settlement of $7 million for their client, the mother of Daniel Shaham (31), against the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and then-Officer Paul Shadwell. This remains one of the largest settlements in CHP history and sets an important benchmark in police shooting cases moving forward.
On June 4, 2016, Shaham was seen on the Sacramento Interstate 5 overpass and reported to be “behaving strangely,” climbing over the overpass railing in what appeared to be a suicide attempt according to a 911 call. When Shadwell approached Shaham, they exchanged words and Shaham returned to his car. Shaham was not doing anything illegal.
Upon reviewing the dispatch records, Shadwell reapproached Shaham’s car and witnessed Shaham inside with a folding knife in his hand, opening the blade halfway then closing it. Shaham did not respond to requests through the closed window to put the knife away. As Shaham got out of the car, Shadwell pointed his gun at him. Shaham took four slow shuffle-steps sideways from the driver’s side door to the rear of the car. When he got to the back of his car, Shadwell fired four shots into him, hitting him twice in the chest, once in the side of his right leg, and once in his back.
The Plaintiff’s acclaimed civil rights attorneys’ pretrial statement states CHP training enforces that “officers are only supposed to point their gun directly at a person if deadly force would be justified.” Shaham and Shadwell were 12 to 15 feet apart when Shaham was killed. Shadwell admits that Shaham was only a “potential threat” when he first pointed his gun at him. The closed knife was found on the ground. The family’s civil rights attorney, Michael Haddad, points out that a closed knife does not justify deadly force. “This was a horribly wrong shooting. The officer never faced an immediate threat from Daniel to justify deadly force. A jury was going to hold the officer and the CHP fully accountable.”
Video caught from the camera in Shadwell’s patrol car shows the officer stringing yellow caution tape around the scene following the incident, but does not show him approaching Shaham to provide medical assistance. Twenty-three minutes after the incident, officers responding to the scene began to perform CPR.
Daniel Shaham, 31, attended high school in Larkspur and majored in chemistry at Sacramento State. He had Schizophrenia and was moderate to high functioning on his medication. This settlement comes 2 weeks before the case was due at trial.
A detailed account of the interaction and case proceedings is available here.Haddad and Sherwin are acclaimed civil rights lawyers in the state of California. If you have a loved one who has been the victim of an illegal and unwarranted police shooting, contact them today for a consultation.