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Advisory: Judge Dismisses Civil Rights Lawsuit Against the County of San Bernardino and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department

Dear Jodi Miller, For release – June 14, 2019

On May 31, 2019, a civil rights violation lawsuit was dismissed against the County of San Bernardino and the Sheriff’s Department.  This judgement stems from an officer involved shooting which occurred in the Town of Apple Valley on April 23, 2012.  Deputies responded to a call for service in reference to the suspect, later identified as Mark Whittaker, walking on a residential street carrying a rifle. When deputies arrived at the location, Whittaker hid behind a tree and fired what was later found to be a pellet gun at deputies.  Deputies returned fire and struck Whittaker. Medical aid was summoned and Whittaker was loaded into an awaiting ambulance.

While in the ambulance, Whittaker kicked and tried to choke the deputy who was riding with him.  The deputy and a paramedic struggled to restrain Whittaker to no avail. The deputy was able to gain control of Whittaker after deploying his Taser.  The officer involved shooting investigation was reviewed by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office on March 8, 2013 and was determined to be lawful. 

On October 24, 2014, Whittaker stipulated the facts in the criminal case against him were true.  The court found him guilty on all felony charges. Later during court proceedings, the court determined Whittaker suffered from mental illness and was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was transferred to a state mental hospital.

On January 22, 2014, the County of San Bernardino, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department and the involved personnel were served with a lawsuit claiming civil rights violations. The attorney representing Whittaker who filed the lawsuit was attorney Jeffrey Lamb who later withdrew from the case.  Whittaker was then represented by Attorney David Weil and San Bernardino County was represented by Attorney Dennis Wagner.  Wagner defended the case for five years and the lawsuit filed in state court was dismissed in favor of San Bernardino County and the Sheriff’s Department.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department encourages the public to become informed on civil court cases.  State lawsuits can be reviewed at http://www.sb-court.org/divisions/civil-general-information/court-case-information-and-document-sales .  To review federal lawsuits, an account can be created on www.pacer.gov.  With this account information, cases can be reviewed by any member of the public. 

Deputy Report # 181202404
San Bernardino County Civil Court Case # CIVVS1300690

https://www.sbsun.com/2012/04/23/apple-valley-man-armed-with-rifle-shot-by-deputies/