By KAREN VELIE
The wife of a man shot and killed on Highway 101 by two San Luis Obispo County sheriff deputies in 2017 has filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against Sheriff Ian Parkinson, his department and the two deputies.
The suit, filed by attorneys Justin Sterling and Erin Darling, alleges excessive force and gross negligence in the killing of 34-year-old Josh Gallardo. The suit also alleges the sheriff’s department knew or should have known that deputies Jonathan Calvert and Greg Roach “had dangerous propensities for abusing their authority and for mistreating citizens.”
On Jan. 24, 2017, the deputies shot and killed Gallardo after pulling him over because he was wanted for questioning regarding a domestic disturbance.
After getting out of their cruiser, both officers approached Gallardo’s vehicle with their guns drawn. At the driver’s side of the car, Calvert spoke with Gallardo and then holstered his gun, according to the lawsuit.
At the other side of the car, Roach began firing multiple rounds at Gallardo nearly missing Calvert, according to the lawsuit.
“It was at this time, even though Mr. Gallardo posed no threat of harm to Deputy Calvert, Deputy Roach, or any other person, and in the absence of any legal justification for doing so, that Deputy Roach then unlawfully, improperly and maliciously shot Mr. Gallardo, discharging multiple rounds onto Mr. Gallardo,” the lawsuit says.
Calvert then unholstered his gun and also began firing at Gallardo, the suit says.
Following the shooting, Roach and Calvert retreated and called for backup. Multiple units arrived, and deputies determined Josh Gallardo was dead.
“The conduct of deputies Calvert and Roach was willful, wanton, malicious, or done with reckless disregard for the rights and safety of the decedent and therefore warrants the imposition of exemplary and punitive damages,” the lawsuit says.
Both deputies knew Gallardo was a “non-violent individual who was battling depression and suicidal ideation for some time,” according to the suit.
As in other claims against the county sheriff’s department, the lawsuit describes misinformation promoted by Tony Cipolla, the sheriff’s public relations officer.
In a sheriff’s department statement released shortly after the shooting, Gallardo is described as a “violent transient,” even though Gallardo had been gainfully employed for more than a decade.
Gallardo was a lifelong Paso Robles resident who was working at Kellogg’s at the time of his death. Before that, Gallardo had worked for 14 year at Food 4 Less in Paso Robles. He was a manager when he left Food 4 Less and went to Kellogg’s, his wife Francis Gallardo said.
“Those who had a chance to know Josh Gallardo knew him as a loving husband, son, brother, uncle and most important, an amazing father to our two boys,” Francis Gallardo said. “My children and I ache every single day from his passing. We will not stop fighting for him until justice is served.”
Following Gallardo’s death, the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the shooting and determined the deputies acted lawfully.
Both deputies have a history of questionable behavior.
Four years before Calvert fired multiple rounds at Gallardo, he shot an unarmed man in the back.
On March 21, 2013, Calvert spotted Matthew Frushon, a suspect in a robbery, on a street in Long Beach and attempted to detain him. While running from Calvert, Frushon took a cell phone out of his pocket. Thinking Frushon was armed, Calvert shot him in the back and in the elbow, police said.
In late 2013, the Cochran Firm filed a lawsuit against the City of Long Beach and Frushon alleging civil rights violations, battery and negligence. On Oct. 21, 2015, the city and Calvert settled with Frushon.
In late 2016, Calvert resigned from the Long Beach Police Department and a few months later he was hired by the SLO County Sheriff’s Department.