Suit Filed Over Police Shooting That Left Local Man, Grandson Hurt

Alexander Mendoza remains in the McLennan County Jail, charged with attempted capital murder. (Jail photo)
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WACO (June 19, 2013)--A Waco man who was shot in the hand by police, who also shot his grandson, has filed a federal lawsuit against the officer involved in the incident and the City of Waco.

The lawsuit, filed June 11 in U.S. District court in Waco, names Tommy Smith and his wife Vicky as plaintiffs and the City of Waco and Waco police Officer Francisco Reyes as defendants.

The suit, obtained Wednesday by News 10, says Smith was wounded by police gunfire as officers were trying to defuse a fight between Smith and his grandson, Alex Mendoza, 19, after the two got into an argument about the grandson's girlfriend.

The city declined to comment on the suit Wednesday.

Officers were sent at around 7 p.m. on March 18 to a home in the 2000 block of Lyle Avenue in response to a report of a domestic disturbance.

Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said at the time of the incident that officers arrived to find Mendoza holding a rifle and Smith wrestling with him to gain control of the gun.

The lawsuit says Mendoza took the rifle from Smith's closet and was threatening to kill himself and says the rifle was unloaded and without its magazine, which, the suit claims, should have been readily visible to any trained police officer.

"…Officer Reyes, having come upon Mr. Smith and the already restrained Mr. Mendoza, opened fire in the general direction of both individuals," the suit says.

"Firing wildly and in a broad arc, Officer Reyes fired at least three un-aimed or carelessly aimed shots in the general direction of Mr. Smith and his grandson, first hitting a wooden post, then a chair several feet away, and then, finally, Mr. Smith (who was feet from either the post or the chair),” the suit says.

The suit says the bullet that struck Smith did permanent damage to his hand and required a partial amputation.

The bullet passed through Smith's hand and struck his grandson in the abdomen.

The suit alleges that officers refused immediate medical attention for Smith and began questioning him about the presence of drugs in his home.

Subsequent investigation, the lawsuit says, proved there were none and never had been any illegal drugs in the house.

The suit claims that officers failed to assess the situation adequately when they arrived and that failure resulted in what the suit calls the needless shooting of both Smith and his grandson.

The suit also claims the use of deadly force was unjustified; that the officer's poor aim resulted in injury without cause and that the officer failed to provide first aid or allow the wounded man to provide it to himself.

Mendoza remains in the McLennan County Jail in lieu of $30,000 bond.

He has been indicted for attempted capital murder.

Smith was not charged.

Police identified the officers involved as Reyes and Timothy Bonovitch, both six-year veterans of the department.

Bonovitch did not fire during the incident, police said.