Family of man shot to death by officer is moving forward with lawsuit

Family of man shot to death by officer is moving forward with lawsuit »Play Video

YAKIMA, Wash. -- A decision from the Yakima County prosecuting attorney about a deadly police shooting won't bring a quick end to the case.

Rocendo Arias' family is in the process of suing Yakima and YPD for wrongful death. That's despite Jim Hagarty's determination the shooting was justified.

Civil rights attorney Bill Pickett is preparing for a lawsuit on behalf of Rocendo Arias. He's the man shot and killed by a Yakima Police officer at a car wash in January.

Pickett calls it a civil rights case based on excessive force and wrongful death. The claims will be made against YPD and the city of Yakima. Pickett disagrees with the conclusion that the shooting was justified.

"It is improper, and that type of improper conduct needs to be called out," he said.

Pickett plans to file paperwork next week and expects the case to take a while. After a 60-day waiting period, he says the process could take two to three years to play out in court. Arias' family is willing to fight.

"To have your family member wrongfully taken from you is a horrible event that no parent, that no brother or sister, that no wife or mother or father should ever have to suffer needlessly," Pickett said.

Officer Casey Gillette, who shot Arias, returned to work in February. Yakima County's prosecuting attorney said the shooting was justified because of the perceived threat felt by the officer at the time.

Investigators say Arias was holding an Airsoft pellet gun that the officer claims was pointed at him when he fired the deadly shot.

YPD will not conduct its own internal investigation into the shooting because prosecutors found it was justified.

To get all sides, we tried to reach YPD. The department did not respond to our attempts.