SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA) — The family of a man fatally shot last month by California Highway Patrol officers has filed a multi-million dollar claim against the state.
"They took him," Ann McMurtry, the victim's widow, said. "They took my love, my person, away from me, and I'm totally, totally outraged."
McMurtry Thursday could not hide the flurry of emotions that come with loss as she tried to talk about her husband, Charley.
"He was in a deep crisis, and they shot him," she said.
McMurtry said she was driving on the 10 Freeway through Upland Feb. 5 when her husband experienced a mental health crisis in the car and pulled out a knife.
"He started to cut himself with a knife, and she pulled over to the side of the 10 Freeway in Upland and he suddenly jumped out of the car," John Sweeney, the family's attorney, said.
"He was in crisis that day, and I called for help to help me," McMurtry said.
She said she told the responding officers that her husband was a Marine Corps veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Police said at the time that Charley was shot after "rapidly approaching the officer in an aggressive manner, with the knife in his hand." Charley was taken to the hospital where he later died.
"I'm outraged as to how they treat mental health," McMurtry said.
In a claim filed Thursday, attorneys allege that the CHP officer had no reasonable grounds to shoot Charley and that the state was responsible for the officer's actions that violated policies and training. The family is seeking $15 million in damages.
"Protocol is to try to talk to the person in crisis, try to calm that person, not to agitate that person and wait until professional help comes to talk to them," Sweeney said. "We know that he didn't do that."
And though nothing will bring back her husband, McMurtry wanted to make it clear that something must be done to help those in crisis.
"He had PTSD from serving this country, making sure we are all safe in this country, and they treat it like the plague," she said. "Something has to change when people are in crisis."
The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department is conducting the investigation into the shooting and will forward the case to the district attorney's office when it is complete.
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