Courts

Lawsuit: Sacramento officer ‘shot an innocent man in the back’ at boxing event

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The family of Augustine Morales, the man shot and killed by a Sacramento Police Officer at an unsanctioned boxing event last year, has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and the officer who shot him.

The lawsuit is the second of its kind to be filed by the many loved ones Morales left behind. The first suit, filed on behalf of Morales’ father, longtime partner, and young children, is currently ongoing. The second suit was filed last week on behalf of Morales’ mother, Roxanne, and older daughter, Seselie McKnight.

Morales, 38, was fatally shot by Sacramento Police Sergeant Jeremiah Jarvis while attending an anti-gun violence boxing match in North Sacramento last November. The event, “Gunz Down, Gloves Up: Northside Edition”, was held in a warehouse off of Juliesse Avenue and was attended by several-hundred people.

Police have said that Jarvis was conducting unrelated “administrative tasks” in his patrol car after responding to reports of a possible sideshow in the area when several shots rang out into the night. Body camera video released by the city shows the officer sprinting into the event before firing several shots into the back of Morales, who was armed. Officials characterized the event as a cut-and-dry justified shooting.

“The department is grateful that our sergeant was on scene when the shots were fired,” outgoing Police Chief Daniel Hahn said in a statement. “He ran towards these shots and likely saved numerous lives by confronting an armed suspect.”

The new lawsuit, however, argues that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Attorneys for the Morales family say in the complaint that Augustine wasn’t the one who opened fire, and instead drew his unloaded, registered gun in an effort to defend himself. Photos released by the department show Morales had one round chambered in his firearm, but lawyers say he couldn’t have fired it, even if he wanted to, because his gun had a magazine disconnector.

Surveillance video from the night in question shows a large group running from a commotion in the warehouse before Morales approaches with his gun drawn. Someone lets out several shots from the warehouse and Morales ducks behind a car, barely standing up again before Sgt. Jarvis approaches from behind, without identifying himself, and empties several rounds into the man’s back.

As Morales lie on the ground, after Jarvis shot him, he exclaimed “I didn’t shoot nobody.”

“It is a true and damning statement,” the lawyers wrote. “The officer let the unidentified gunman who opened fire into a crowd of people go free and shot an innocent man in the back.”

Following the shooting, Morales was transported to the UC Davis Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries. The shooter from the warehouse was never identified and remains at large.

If the lawsuit is successful, the city will have to pay damages to the family for Morales’ wrongful death, and will be ordered to cover his coroner’s fees, funeral and burial expenses, and hospital bills.

A spokesperson for the city of Sacramento didn’t return a request for comment. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Jarvis or the city had retained attorneys. The Update has reached out to a lawyer for the Morales family.

Ethan Biando
Ethan Biando is a freelance journalist from Sacramento. His writing focuses on crime and justice as well as issues of racial inequality. Find him on Twitter @ethanb822.

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