Robert Pickett and Darryl Lewis, two men who were allegedly racially profiled in Inglewood, California by a police officer four years ago, are seeking justice after the incident nearly cost them their lives.
According to The Huffington Post, Pickett and Lewis arrived at the home of Pickett’s cousin in May 2011 when Officer Mike Bolliger responded to a report of two armed potential home invaders.
Upon arrival, Bolliger immediately opened fire while the men tried to take cover.
Lewis was shot once in the back and three times in the legs, while Pickett sustained seven gunshot wounds, including one to his head. Both men miraculously survived and are now taking their case against Bolliger, four other officers, and the city to federal court.
What followed in the aftermath of the shooting was a story in which multiple news outlets reported the officer was attacked by the men. Guns and other items labeled stolen appeared as evidence in the case, a move the men believe was part of a cover-up by the Inglewood Police Department.
The men say it took nearly an hour for them to receive medical attention and both were forced to await trial for over a year at Men’s Central Jail. In addition to the crime they didn’t commit, the men found out five days into their time in jail they were also being charged for a murder that happened before Bolliger arrived at the scene. While en route to the apartment complex, the squad car ran into Loretta Gerard, 45, killing her, NBC Los Angeles reports.
Pickett and Lewis were later exonerated in December 2013. Pickett said he learned how to walk again on his own and suffered cold sweats and nightmares following his time in jail.
Pickett and Lewis claim Bolliger and Inglewood Police Officers Navid Khansari, Joe Lisardi, Michael Han and Jack Aranda helped cover up what really happened the day of the shooting.
The former defendants are currently seeking punitive damages for civil rights violations, unreasonable and excessive force, false arrest, malicious prosecution, and failure to intervene, train, supervise and discipline.
The men shared their painful story with Ian Wallach’s legal affairs podcast last year. Coincidentally, the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles where they did time is the same institution into which the Department of Justice launched an investigation thanks to reports of inadequate care and refusal to administer constitutional rights to prisoners, leading them to develop mental illness.
Pickett returned to the show to speak further on his arrest (at 18:07).
Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts has not yet commented on the case.