Man gets $1.5 million in accidental police shooting

National City detective misfired during traffic stop

Darren Pierson. "This is a case of a good cop, one with no history of discipline...."
  • Darren Pierson. "This is a case of a good cop, one with no history of discipline...."

Elected officials in National City have agreed to pay 22-year-old Jesus Flores a $1.5 million to dismiss the lawsuit he filed after a National City police officer accidentally shot him during a March, 2015 traffic stop.

Eugene Iredale says the settlement was rare.

Eugene Iredale says the settlement was rare.

Flores was driving his Honda Accord on F Street on March 10, 2015 when he was pulled over by a National City police officer for a missing license plate. Wanted on a warrant and not having a valid drivers' license, Flores continued driving for three blocks until finally pulling over. His refusal to stop resulted in officers implementing what is called a felony hot-stop, where officers approach with weapons drawn.

After stopping, officers ordered Flores to place his arms outside of the driver's side window. Flores did so. Corporal Darren Pierson, then a 17-year-veteran of the force, took the lead and approached the car as the initial officer retreated in front of him. Pierson, according to Flores' attorney Eugene Iredale, lost grip of his gun and in an effort to regain control fired a single shot, boring a hole through Flores' left elbow.

In a 2016 deposition an officer at the scene testified that Pierson's first words after firing his gun were, "Oh, shit."

Flores filed his complaint in July 2015. In January 2017 both sides agreed to settle the case for $1.5 million, a process which attorney Iredale says was very rare.

"This was a rather unique case, because this was a good cop who made a mistake and he owned up to it. Corporal Pierson admitted that my client had followed their orders and the gun slipped. This is a case where a good cop, one with no history of discipline, extremely active in civic causes, made a mistake, like we all so often do. The rare thing is he admitted to it, thus allowing my client to move on with his life."

Pierson has since been promoted to detective. A spokesperson for the police department was unable to comment as to whether Pierson was disciplined for the accidental shooting.

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