Man accidentally killed by Madera Police, jury will hear case

FRESNO, Calif.

In 2002, Officer /*Marcy Noriega*/ said she pulled out her service weapon when she meant to grab her taser. She shot and killed 24-year-old /*Everardo Torres*/, who was in handcuffs in the back of a police car.

The Torres family's lawsuit has been seemingly lost twice. But now, it looks like a jury will get to decide whether a police officer acted reasonably when she shot and killed Torres because of a mistake she'd made before.

Nine years ago, Everardo Torres was a boxing instructor with a Golden Gloves championship to his name and a bright future. Madera Police officer Marcy Noriega ended it all by accident. She reached for her taser to subdue Torres, who was handcuffed in the back of a cop car. But Noriega grabbed her handgun instead and when she pulled the trigger, she killed Torres. Soon after, his family filed a lawsuit.

"If you mistakenly shoot someone, it's clearly a violation of Constitutional rights," said attorney Thomas Brill, who argued the case before the 9TH Circuit Appeals Court in San Francisco.

A court in Fresno threw out the case twice, but on Monday, the higher court in San Francisco ruled the case should be heard by a jury.

Attorney Melissa White, who represented Fresno Police for six years, says that jury has to decide whether Noriega acted reasonably when she killed Torres.

"An officer who had the same training, the same years of experience, under the same pressures as that officer was under, would they have responded that same way?" she said.

After nine years of waiting, the Torres family is eager to just get the case in court.

"I can't say that when they heard the news about this decision they were happy, but I think they felt a sense of relief that we're finally going to have this thing heard by a jury, which is all they ever wanted really," Brill said.

The family will still have to wait a few months before the case goes to trial. Their attorney says it probably won't get started until at least April. Action News also reached out to the Madera Police Department Monday, but got no response.

Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.