Summary of Article by Jason Anderson
Recordnet.com Staff Writer
STOCKTON â€” A San Joaquin County Superior Court judge granted a motion Friday to open personnel records of 32 current and former Stockton police officers who fired their weapons during a 2014 shootout that claimed the life of hostage Misty Holt-Singh.
The ruling represented the latest development in the ongoing civil lawsuit between the Holt-Singh family and the city of Stockton. Judge Lesley Holland ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a Pitchess motion seeking discovery of personnel records for all 32 officers who engaged in an intense gunfight that killed Holt-Singh and two bank robbers.
Greg Bentley, an attorney representing the Holt-Singh family, described the ruling as a relatively rare victory in a civil case. Stockton City Attorney John Luebberke said it was somewhat unprecedented in San Joaquin County given the scope of the request.
â€œWe are thankful that the motion was granted and look forward to reviewing these very important records,â€ Bentley said.
Holt-Singh died July 16, 2014, during a gun battle between Stockton police and three men who took hostages before fleeing in a stolen sport utility vehicle following a bank robbery. Officers fired more than 600 bullets into the SUV when the pursuit ended at Thornton Road and Otto Drive, killing Holt-Singh and two of the bank robbers.
In August 2015, the Holt-Singh family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Stockton, the Stockton Police Department and 32 officers who fired their weapons during the shootout. The lawsuit alleges that officers acted negligently, used excessive force and violated police procedures in response to the bank robbery.
In July, Bentley said he had filed a Pitchess motion seeking the personnel files of the officers involved in the shootout. Luebberke explained that a Pitchess motion is a request made in California criminal and civil cases seeking access to personnel information of law enforcement officers, typically when an officer is accused of lying or using excessive force.
â€œA Pitchess motion is the process established by the California Legislature for persons to get access to the records of peace officers,â€ Luebberke said in a written statement. â€œThese motions are usually brought by the defense counsel in criminal and civil cases where police officers are involved.
After such a hearing, the court makes a decision on whether the requested records may be relevant to the case and whether the court will review all the records to determine which can be released. Thatâ€™s why the motion filed in the Misty Holt-Singh case was brought.
â€œThe City Attorneyâ€™s Office represents the officers in the motion, and we are reviewing the courtâ€™s ruling to determine the next steps. We do not recall a case that involved this many Stockton police officers, and I am not aware of any others in this county.â€
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