A man who was shot in the face by a Stafford police officer after a 2012 skirmish is suing the officer -- a decorated ex-Marine once honored by President Barak Obama -- and the Stafford Police Department over what he claims was an unjustified shooting.
In dash-cam footage of the incident, driver Jay Mazoch's SUV is out of frame for much of the time, and a female officer who has stopped him can be heard repeatedly telling him to turn off the vehicle and roll down his window. The vehicle then lurches into view, and an officer moves from the driver's side to the front of the SUV, pulls a gun, and fires a single shot through the windshield.
Mazoch's attorney, Randall Kallinen, says police were on the scene because they were investigating a shooting earlier that night.
Kallinen said Mazoch, who had never been convicted of a crime, "basically stops by the woman officer, says 'Hey, this is my neighborhood, what's happening?' She basically shuffles him off. And so he goes down the street in his car, by himself."
But when Mazoch reached the end of the cul-de-sac, Officer Ann Carrizales approached him on foot to question him, Kallinen said. When Mazoch stopped, officers reached through his window and, Kallinen said, "end up punching him in the face, I guess because he didn't open the door quickly enough."
"One of them had some type of metal clip in her hand, he (Mazoch) says, so she's punching him with that clip," Kallinen said. The car moved forward, but then Mazoch voluntarily stopped, the lawyer said.
"This car is voluntarily stopped," Kallinen said. "There's no one in front of him. And the officer runs in front of the vehicle and shoots at the person inside. That's excessive force."
Mazoch incurred upwards of $83,000 in medical expenses, according to the lawsuit.
A spokesman for the Stafford Police Department said he could not comment because the department hadn't yet been served. But a press release issued after the incident states that Mazoch had become argumentative after officers waved him away and told him they couldn't talk to him.
Mazoch said "Wait and see what I am going to do," drove to the cul-de-sac's turnaround, and "started back toward the officers," according to the release. A uniformed officer and plainclothes detective approached and ordered Mazoch to get out "numerous times." Mazoch refused to comply and, as he "attempted to flee the scene, the uniformed officer's arm was pinned in the front driver window" and the second officer "jumped on the running board to assist."
"The driver dragged the officers approximately 75 feet," according to the release. "When the vehicle came to an abrupt stop, the driver side window shattered, freeing the officers. The momentum of the sudden stop threw one of the officers in front of the vehicle, at which time the officer drew her weapon and discharged one round at the vehicle."
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Mazoch was later charged with two counts of aggravated assault of a peace officer for allegedly closing his window on Carrizales' and another officer's arms. Those charges, along with another for DWI, remain pending.
Coincidentally, Carrizales was herself shot in the face about a year later, when a routine traffic stop turned ugly. The driver of the car she pulled over shot her in the cheek and chest, but fortunately Carrizales was wearing a bulletproof vest and was able to chase the driver for 20 miles after he and his passengers sped off.
Carrizales was subsequently invited to attend the President's State of the Union address the following January.
-- Michael Barajas contributed reporting