BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A man shot during an undercover raid at an illegal casino has filed a claim against Kern County, accusing deputies of falsifying reports about the incident that left him injured. Claims are required to be filed against government agencies for damages and typically are the first step of a lawsuit.
In December, Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Geherty shot Willie Roberts outside the casino on E California Avenue, near Mt. Vernon Avenue in east Bakersfield. Roberts was hit in the upper legs and continues to go through medical treatment while facing trial in March.
The claim accuses Geherty and other deputies of falsifying reports about the incident, which was determined to be within the department’s policy last month. In a video released in January, the Sheriff’s Office said Geherty shot Roberts after he defied an order to get on the ground and instead pointed an airsoft gun at Geherty’s face.
But the claim accuses Geherty of shooting Roberts while the man was already laying down, complying with orders. The claim said while Roberts did have an airsoft gun, he did not draw it and told Geherty about it while he was being patted down on the ground. The claim also said Roberts was shot three times, while KCSO said Deputy Geherty fired one round.
“It’s just a really shoddy operation as far as we can tell,” said attorney Mark Merin, who is representing Roberts and his girlfriend, Carla Sutton in the claim.
Before the shooting, the claim said Roberts had been in the casino for about 15 minutes before leaving and calling Sutton, to pick him up. Sutton accuses KCSO deputies of detaining her at gunpoint before she was told they were law officers. She also accuses them of threatening to leave her without her phone, purse or vehicle if she didn’t consent to a search. However, even after agreeing to the search, the claim said Sutton was left to walk home alone “in the middle of the night.”
KCSO said Geherty was not wearing a body camera and was in plainclothes for the investigation, which involved unmarked vehicles, but the department said he and other deputies wore tactical vests with “SHERIFF” identifiers.
Roberts is set to be tried in the case next month, with trial currently set for March 29. Merin said he hopes the trial will reveal more evidence against KCSO that makes their own case stronger, especially video.
The Sheriff’s Office said it does not comment on pending litigation.