On January 10, 2010, Vincent Steen was killed when he was shot by Porterville Police Department Officers Brian Nix and Isaiah Scaggs.
This incident ultimately culminated in a lawsuit being filed by his family in civil court due to their belief that the Tulare County District Attorney's office failed to do a thorough criminal investigation of the incident.
The civil case was settled on October 23, 2013 in front of the Honorable Lloyd Hicks of the Tulare County Superior Court for the sum of $750,000.
Vincent Steen was 26 years old at the time of his death. He lived with his mother, younger brother and sister and was self-employed as a firewood cutter. According to trial testimony from his family and friends, Vincent was a gentle and loving son and brother.
Mr. Steen was pulled over the evening of January 10, 2010 for not having a light on his bicycle by Officer Nix.
That stop culminated in a frightened Vincent Steen running home to his residence and being pursued by Porterville Police Officers Nix, Scaggs and Eric Martinez. They pursued Mr. Steen into the home and ultimately shot him in his back and his chest.
While the Porterville Police Department claimed that Vincent attacked Officer Martinez, Cathy Connor, Vincent's mother and Randy Steen, Vincent's brother, were both present at the time of the shooting and testified that no such attack ever took place and that he was simply trying to get away from Officer Martinez who had deployed his taser and struck Mr. Steen. Mr. Steen, who had never had any disputes or problems with the Porterville Police Department, was unarmed when he was shot and killed.
This matter was initially tried back in April and resulted in a mistrial where the majority of the jurors had found that Officer Nix had acted unreasonably. The matter was reset for trial in front of Judge Hicks for November 4, 2013. The matter settled in its entirety at a Mandatory Settlement Conference on October 23, 2013 for the sum of $750,000.
"The case was never about money, it was always about accountability," said the family's attorney, Roger Dreyer. "This settlement validates the family's decision to prosecute this matter civilly to hold the department and officers responsible."
"All the family wanted was justice for Vincent and the community and that is why they wanted to pursue this action," said Dreyer. "By trying the case in April and obtaining this resolution, the family believes it has achieved their goal."