Robert Pickett, 35, and Darryl Lewis, 39, testified in federal court that they were simply going about their business in May 2011, when Officer Mike Bollinger of the Inglewood Police Department approached them with his gun drawn.
Pickett claims that Bolliger "parked his car at the corner, got out armed with his shotgun cocked, loaded and ready to fire" and shot at the two men.
"No questions asked, no weapons seen, no words offered or exchanged,” Pickett wrote in a federal complaint. “Defendant Bollinger blasted three shotgun rounds at the hapless and unarmed plaintiffs, striking them and wounding them as they sought to take cover from assault, leaving them in critical condition, bleeding face-down on the ground."
The two men were outside the apartment complex where Lewis lived as the officer arrived alone to respond to a call of a home invasion involving two black men armed with handguns. No other information was provided about the alleged robbers.
"Without warning, without investigation, without knowledge of who was in the area, of who the suspects were or what they looked like, and in violation of all training and standard police protocol, [Bollinger] approached the apartment gate and immediately shot Mr. Lewis and Mr. Pickett," the complaint alleges.
Pickett, who has a young son, was shot seven times, including in his head.
Lewis, a father of four, was shot in the back and three times in his legs.
As more officers arrived on the scene, the two men say it had become apparent to the police that they had the wrong guys, and that the officers set to covering it up.
An officer also struck and killed a pedestrian while rushing to the scene.
Mysteriously, stolen items from the robbery that had initially prompted the police response appeared at the scene, as well as two weapons.
"The problem for defendant Bollinger and the rest of defendant police officers was that neither plaintiff was armed; neither possessed a weapon of any kind. Likewise, neither plaintiff was in possession of any of the stolen items supposedly taken by the suspect in the robbery," the complaint states. The robbery victims also did not name Pickett and Lewis as the people who had entered their home.
The complaint also states that the first photos from the scene "do not show any weapon nor any of the stolen items. Some of the responding officers to the scene failed to see any weapons purportedly belonging to either plaintiff. Somehow, however, two handguns appeared and stolen items appeared as well. It was determined by subsequent forensic analysis before plaintiffs' criminal trial, that neither plaintiff was in any way connected physically with the weapons or the items."
The men reportedly did not receive medical treatment for an hour, and the officer allegedly told them that he "he did not give a f*** that he had shot him in the head."
Pickett and Lewis were charged with murder of the pedestrian killed by the police car, attempted murder of Bollinger, and carrying loaded firearms.
The innocent men then spent a year in jail awaiting their trial, which eventually exonerated them.
They now seek punitive damages for civil rights violations, unreasonable and excessive force, false arrest, malicious prosecution, and failure to intervene, train, supervise and discipline, Courthouse News reported.