New lawsuit filed against City in Tyler Rushing case Tyler's dad says City is withholding records

by Natalie Hanson
posted Oct. 2

Scott and Paula Rushing have spent six years fighting the City of Chico over its role in the killing of their son, Tyler.

Paula & Scott Rushing

Now, the Rushings face yet another hurdle -— they’ve been denied police records about the 2017 shooting and tasering of Tyler.

Scott Rushing, a Ventura resident, has filed a lawsuit claiming the City of Chico violated California’s public transparency laws by refusing to provide Chico Police Department records.

It is not the first time Rushing has claimed the City withheld records of his son’s death from his family.

“I feel that I am being punished by City officials,” Rushing said. “This is a retaliation tactic by the City against my wife and I for pursuing a jury trial for the Chico PD officers involved in killing our son. The need to hire a costly attorney to sue the City of Chico to release public records, to obey state laws, and to be transparent should be unnecessary.”

City officials did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the Rushings’ new lawsuit. Last summer, Police Chief Billy Aldridge emailed a statement to ChicoSol, stating in part that “…the City does not allow any employee to speak on cases with pending litigation … Once the case is adjudicated, I will be happy to speak with you about it.”

Tyler Rushing

The City last year settled a lawsuit with ChicoSol contributor Dave Waddell, over violations of the California Public Records Act. Under the settlement agreement, the City paid $43,637 and provided the documents Waddell requested — public records related to four killings by or involving officers at the Chico Police Department – – in some cases 19 months after the requests were first made.

Rushing filed the claim Aug. 30 in Butte County Superior Court for a petition of declaratory relief and writ of mandate under the California Public Records Act.

He had filed two Public Records Act requests with the City during December 2022, seeking a PowerPoint presentation that he says Chico PD’s command staff produced after his son died on July 23, 2017. He also sought the names of the officers who were members of the Hostage or Crisis Negotiating teams and may have been on duty that night.

In a response filed to Rushing’s complaint, the City said the records are exempt under the Public Records Act’s government code section that allows officials to withhold records from the public for multiple reasons.

The City said on Dec. 20, 2022, that the officers’ names Rushing requested were also exempt under the Public Records Act, citing a 1991 case involving the “deliberative process” doctrine, Times Mirror Co. v. Superior Court.

“The records you seek have the potential of revealing sensitive and strategic information regarding security measures implemented to protect the City’s uniformed personnel,” the City wrote in response. “The city’s interest in protecting sensitive security measures clearly outweighs the public’s interest in access to the same.”

Rushing believes the Public Records Act, Senate Bill 1421, Assembly Bill 748 and Senate Bill 16 mandate disclosure of the records requested. In particular, Rushing noted SB 1421 states that concealing crucial public safety matters undercuts the public’s faith in law enforcement.

He also wants the judge to conduct an in camera review of some or all of the records requested and asks that if the court does not immediately order disclosure, that the City be ordered to show cause and disclose the records.

Rushing’s attorney on the documents case, Aaron Field, said no timeline for proceedings has been set.

“Because this is a Public Records Act case, if Mr. Rushing prevails, the public will prevail as well,” Field said. “These records would shed more light on how this tragedy happened as a matter of City policy, and on how City policy has changed or should change as a result.

“The public has a compelling interest in answering these questions. Recent police records disclosure laws … and our Supreme Court’s recognition that ‘openness in government is essential to the functioning of a democracy,’ recognize this.”

The Rushings’ separate civil rights lawsuit regarding how their son was killed and tasered may be finally headed to a civil trial in federal court before U.S. Senior District Judge Morrison C. England, Jr.

England granted the City’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit in its entirety in 2020, but that ruling was partially overturned on appeal. The judge then denied the City’s motions aimed at again tossing the entire suit in July. A stipulation filed Sept. 26 shows that the parties will meet in a settlement conference before Magistrate Judge Kendall J. Newman on Nov. 28.

Natalie Hanson is a contributing writer to ChicoSol.

3 thoughts on “New lawsuit filed against City in Tyler Rushing case Tyler's dad says City is withholding records

  1. Thank you, Natalie, for this detailed article revealing the possibly illegal practices of the City of Chico to block transparency. The Rushing family has nothing to hide. Do city leaders have something to hide?

    1. Dear Scott Rushing,
      I am with sincere regret that you lost your son, Tyler. I am not from Chico, but had reason to be researching other stories when I learned of your family tragedy.
      I am from Modesto, CA, where a number of suspicious deaths by Police and Sheriff have occured. One officer has shot and killed 5-6 people, in separate incidents, and although arrested for his latest, is now back out, and seeking his job back. Needless to say, family and city citizens dread such.
      It should be a surprise that you are being kept away from vital information, YET, it is NOT. The police chief Dirske, was interviewed recently for the Modesto Bee newspaper, what he revealed about sticking up for his own, was both telling and disheartening.
      I too thought Natalie did a thorough job detailing what you detailed for readers. Freedom of Information is a subject matter we all need to learn about. I will forward your research on to families still reeling from their loved one’s unnecessary deaths by authorities who are too eager to shoot or tazor first, before ever asking pertinent questions.
      The officer seeking his job back, here in Modesto, killed a young mentally challenged man when he was on his knees with hands up, and not carrying any weapon. All caught on the officer’s own police camera, and released for public viewing, yet he is now free, to ask for his job back. The D.A. involved, announced she would not be running for reelection, after it became known he would be free.
      I believe in a resurrection, I pray you do too, and that you and your family all see each other again, when there is no more crying, no more dying.
      May Almighty God bless you and yours…

  2. Thank you, Lou, for the unbelievably kind message. It is a neverending nightmare to lose our only son, who suffered such a violent killing at the whim of “peace officers” who chose to employ lethal force instead of helping him get the care he desperately needed. It is emotionally challenging to write this reply, but it is necessary to do so out of respect for our son and other victims of rogue cops and the blue wall of silence. Sadly, Stanislaus County, like many rural counties such as Butte, has a pro-cop, frontier democracy, point of the gun injustice system. I have spoken with numerous families across the country who have lost loved ones to the officers’ unreasonable use of lethal force. The circumstances of every killing were different, yet the response from law enforcement is always the same: the DA or Prescutor will spin the killing narrative to vilify the victim and the victim’s family. The families are bullied, and retaliation is hinted at. The victim is 100% to blame. There is ZERO concern or respect for the victim’s family. We have repeatedly heard all the scripted responses from the DA: “Looking at the “totality of the circumstances” our officers felt their lives were in danger,” “We were scared and had to make a split-second decision to eliminate the threat,” “The officers think they heard the victim say he/she wanted to die,” “The officers thought the victim was reaching for a gun,” “The officers feared the victim would kill them,” “in “exigent” circumstances, our officers can legally defend themselves with lethal force when threatened,” and so forth. You know the drill. People of color are the most “at risk” from violent cops… but no one is safe.

    In rural areas of the state and country, like Modesto in Stanislaus County and Chico in Butte County, the cities are fighting transparency and releasing records …violating state laws …and plain old ethics! To protect the officers, the leaders of the law enforcement agencies also edit, redact, and clip the body-worn camera recordings released to the family and media. Prepping the recordings is another trick to protect rogue cops. The authorities won’t reveal who does the editing. Are the editors following state laws? Are the editors independent or outside vendors, or are they city or county employees? Who trains the editors? Do the family and their attorneys get to see the raw, unedited body-worn camera recordings?…of course not!

    Trust has to be earned, not demanded, and citizens will not have faith in law enforcement until drastic changes are made. Modesto appears to have a rogue cop who should never have been a cop. I believe his colleagues and supervisors must have known. The corrupt brotherhood of cops requires the system to protect its own.

    Despite the pain, my wife and I are doing what we can to have a civilian jury convict the killers of Tyler and suffer the consequences. If we don’t try…the cops and their political friends win by default. I have faith in civilians. We miss our son every minute of every day. The holidays bring us no joy, only agony. We believe we will be united in another life, and Tyler is waiting for us. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

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