Rushing’s parents file claim in cop shooting Desmond Phillips’ family sues city in federal court

by Dave Waddell

The parents of Tyler Rushing, who died after being shot by a private security guard and a Chico police sergeant last summer, have filed a claim against the city for damages in excess of $25,000.

photo courtesy of Rushing family

Tyler Rushing

The claim, received by the city Jan. 17, was obtained by ChicoSol through a state Public Records Act request. As of last week, the city had not responded to the claim, said Dani Rogers, deputy city clerk.

Six days after the Rushing filing, on Jan. 23, relatives of Desmond Phillips brought suit against the city in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento for unspecified damages. The lawsuit was filed by the office of prominent civil rights attorney John L. Burris of Oakland. Phillips, a 25-year-old black man in mental crisis, was shot 11 times by two officers on March 17, 2017, in his own living room after his father called for medical aid.

The Rushing claim was submitted by Rushing’s parents, Scott and Paula Rushing of Ventura. It names among those involved in the incident now-retired Chico police Sgt. Scott Ruppel, who shot Tyler Rushing, 34, twice during a struggle in a downtown bathroom late July 23. A security guard who shot Rushing earlier that night was identified in the claim as Edgar Sanchez of Armed Guard Private Protection.

“Mr. Sanchez was 23 years old and armed with a 9mm Glock with a flashlight mount,” the claim says.

An investigative report on the Rushing shooting issued by Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey in September found no criminal liability on the part of Ruppel or Sanchez, saying each acted in self-defense or in the defense of others. Ramsey’s report contends that security guard Sanchez fired his weapon only once, the bullet going through Rushing’s lung.

The Rushing claim, however, asserts that, after shooting Rushing through the chest, the security guard “fired numerous additional rounds in the direction of Mr. Rushing as he was fleeing.”

Told of the claim’s multiple-shots assertion, Ramsey said the video from the security guard’s body camera, as well as the number of rounds remaining in his Glock, showed that he fired only a single shot.

After being shot by the security guard, the severely wounded Rushing locked himself in a bathroom at Mid-Valley Title and Escrow at Sixth and Main streets. Ruppel tried unsuccessfully to talk the bleeding Rushing out of the restroom before officers rammed open the door and entered with a police dog.

During the struggle that followed, Rushing stabbed Ruppel in the neck with a police-issued ballpoint pen, according to Ramsey. Ruppel, who was not seriously hurt, “recoiled” from the stabbing before shooting Rushing twice at very close range, according to Ramsey’s report.

“Sgt. Ruppel’s first shot was to Mr. Rushing’s upper sternum, and his second shot was ‘execution style’ to the back of Mr. Rushing’s neck,” asserts the Rushings’ claim.

Asked about the “execution style” assertion, Ramsey replied: “No.” Ramsey has said previously that the gunshot from the security guard “was eventually lethal,” while the Ruppel shots “would have been survivable.”

David Phillips, Desmond Phillips’ father, has said that state Attorney General Xavier Becerra is overseeing an investigation into the shooting of his son.

Phillips family photo
Desmond Phillips

Likewise, Scott Rushing is seeking public support for a state AG’s probe of his son’s killing. The Rushings are represented by attorney Brian Vogel of Ventura.

Ruppel, who retired from Chico PD in September, has pleaded not guilty to an unrelated assault charge brought by Ramsey over an alleged choking incident three weeks after the Rushing shooting.

Dave Waddell is news director at ChicoSol.

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