The family of a man who was shot and killed by a police officer will ask a federal appellate court to overturn a jury's March 2017 verdict that found the officer acted in self-defense.
Shakina Ortega, the widow of Victor Ortega, filed the necessary paperwork on April 24, 2017.
The shooting occurred on the morning of June 4, 2012. On that day Shakina Ortega had phoned police after her husband had allegedly beat her up. Two officers responded to the couple's Mira Mesa residence. As they arrived, Ortega fled down a hallway of the apartment complex. Officer Jonathan McCarthy chased after him. According to a report by the Union Tribune the two men began to wrestle. McCarthy's secondary gun dropped from his holster, Ortega reached his arms out to grab it. McCarthy then fired two shots from his primary weapon, killing Ortega.
Attorneys for Ortega's widow, however, argued a different version, claiming there was never any reason for McCarthy to fire his weapon, as Ortega was unarmed and did not pose a risk. The complaint, filed in January 2013, stated that Ortega had already left the home before police arrived and was sitting in a nearby hallway. Attorney Paul Pfingst argued that the trajectory of the bullets, the fact that the first shot traveled through the back of Ortega's neck and the second shot through the front of his abdomen, proved that Ortega was already subdued and deadly force was not warranted.
A jury did not agree. On March 17, 2017, after three hours of deliberation, they found McCarthy acted in self-defense.
In a April 27 document, Shakina, along with the couple's son, and daughter filed an appeal without an attorney representing them. In an accompanying affidavit, Ortega stated that she planned to move forward until an attorney could be found. Until then she did not have the money to pay for filing the appeal.
Her grounds for appeal, as stated in the affidavit, include the fact that a judge failed to inform the jury that McCarthy would not be liable for monetary damages and that the city had indemnified him. Ortega said that additional appealable items would be identified upon the retention of an attorney.