The parents of Ryan Clinkunbroomer — a Los Angeles county deputy who was ambushed and fatally shot while he sat in his police cruiser — intend to sue the sheriff’s department and county leaders over their excessive overtime policies, which they argue puts law enforcement officers like their son at greater risk.
Clinkunbroomer was attacked on Sept. 16 shortly after leaving the police station in Palmdale, a city of more than 167,000 residents in the high desert of northern L.A. County. He was waiting for a red light to change when he was approached by the alleged gunman, Kevin Salazar, who was arrested the following day. Salazar’s family has since said he’s a diagnosed schizophrenic with a long history of mental health struggles.
In the two weeks before the shooting, 30-year-old Clinkunbroomer racked up 69 hours of overtime, including a double shift the day before, said attorney Brad Gage, who represents the slain deputy’s parents. He further argued the young deputy was left exhausted by the extra hours; otherwise, he may have spotted “the telltale signs” of an impending ambush.
“The accused murderer pulled up behind Ryan, then he pulled beside Ryan, he pointed a gun at Ryan and then he shot him,” Gage said. “Ryan was a training officer who demonstrated excellence but because of being forced to work so much overtime he was unable to see the danger signs of what occurred to him.”
On Tuesday, Gage announced that Clinkunbroomer’s parents have filed a government claim, alleging Clinkunbroomer was forced to work 100 hours of overtime each month. He went on to accuse Sheriff Robert Luna, department officials and county leaders of knowingly endangering the lives of law enforcement officers by allowing the mandated overtime.
The claim serves as a precursor to a wrongful death lawsuit, giving officials 45 days to respond before it can be formally filed. Gage said the lawsuit would seek $20 million in damages and changes to sheriff’s department staffing and scheduling policies.
Clinkubroomer’s mother, Kim Clinkunbroomer during an emotional press conference on Tuesday noted that the legal action is not just about the money.
“I don’t want any parent to ever have to sit at a Thanksgiving or holiday dinner with someone missing, like we had to this year,” she said.
Clinkunbroomer’s father, Michael, added: “Had he not been fatigued and exhausted, he would have responded safely; he’d be here today.”
The head of the deputies’ Union stated that staffing shortages have been an ongoing problem in Los Angeles, but did not respond to specific questions about average overtime worked by its members.
“The department’s staffing crisis is pushing our deputies to, and sadly sometimes beyond, their limits. We need our elected officials to take a more aggressive and intelligent approach to addressing the department’s inability to recruit and retain qualified people,” said a statement from Rich Pippin, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs. “Failure to do so can only result in more tragic outcomes, not only for our deputy sheriffs, but for the millions of people who rely on them for protection.”
Salazar is facing one count of murder, plus special circumstance allegations of murder of a peace officer, murder committed by lying in wait, murder committed by firing from a car and personal use of a firearm. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
With News Wire Services