Yuba City dad sues Walnut Creek cops for $15 million
A Yuba City father has filed a $15 million wrongful death lawsuit against a Bay Area police department.
Anthony J. Banta alleged four Walnut Creek police officers shot his son, Anthony A. Banta, to death in December after they "reacted in panic."
The younger Banta, 22, a Yuba City High School graduate, lived in Walnut Creek.
According to the suit, filed last week in US District Court in San Francisco, Anthony A. Banta had visited his parents over the holidays and returned home.
At 3:15 a.m. on Dec. 26, the girlfriend of Banta's roommate called 911, saying that someone was choking, the lawsuit said.
The dispatcher "gleaned that the girlfriend was saying Anthony was trying to choke his roommate," the suit said. "Remarkably, the roommate then took the phone and spoke, but the dispatcher nevertheless alerted the Highway Patrol."
The call eventually was routed to Walnut Creek police, who sent four officers, and they "rushed to the residence," according to the suit.
"When Anthony appeared at the top of the stairway, wondering who was in his apartment, one officer backed up, forcing the other officers back," the suit continued. "The retreating officers tripped over their own feet and fell to the floor. Reacting in panic, one officer opened fire, and the others joined in, fatally shooting Anthony to death."
The lawsuit acknowledged there was a disturbance that prompted the 911 call, but "all of this had ended before the police arrived," the suit said.
According to the lawsuit, neither Walnut Creek nor its Police Department have adequately trained their police officers "for tactical interventions."
The attorney who filed the suit, Larry Peluso, issued a statement calling the younger Banta "a nearly perfect young man. He was responsible beyond his years, economical, restrained, polite to everyone, greatly loved by a loving family and loved and even admired by his friends."
He said the family's grief "is increased by a very high level of shock and by an inability to understand how this could happen to someone like Anthony."
The statement said the family "is certain that the police overreacted and that Anthony did not need to die. They hope to make this lawsuit an instrument of change for the better."
City officials declined to comment on the suit. Shortly after the incident, Police Chief Joel Bryden said officers were forced to shoot when Banta came at them with a 10-inch knife.
The lawsuit doesn't mention any knife.