Racial prejudice among allegations in Tahoe officer-involved shooting

Adam Jensen
Kris Jackson
Courtesy Photo |

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A civil suit filed by a lawyer representing the parents of a 22-year-old man shot and killed by police in June accuses the South Lake Tahoe Police Department of a variety of misconduct during and after the shooting.

The suit, filed in federal court in January by attorney Alan Laskin, says police and the city were negligent in their actions related to the shooting of Kris Jackson; contends the shooting was motivated by prejudice against Jackson, who is black; argues police deprived Jackson of urgently needed medical care following the shooting; maintains the city failed to adequately train police officers and alleges police have shown a pattern of providing misleading information about making arrests.

City attorney Tom Watson declined to respond to allegations in the suit, saying the city does not comment on pending litigation.

Police have previously said the officer who shot Jackson, Joshua Klinge, perceived a deadly threat from Jackson prior to firing his gun. The department has also disputed the contention that medical assistance was not properly provided to Jackson following the shooting.

Laskin is representing Jackson’s parents, Angela Ainley and Patrick Jackson, in the civil suit. The filing seeks damages from Klinge, the city of South Lake Tahoe and police chief Brian Uhler for allegedly violating Jackson’s constitutional rights and causing his death.

Klinge shot Jackson around 2:40 a.m. on June 15 as Jackson was attempting to flee from a room at the Tahoe Hacienda Inn. In the federal suit, Laskin writes Jackson was unarmed and shirtless when a police officer knocked on the door of the room, and Klinge positioned himself outside of the room with a view of the bathroom window.

When the unidentified officer knocked on the door, Jackson ran to the bathroom window at the rear of the room, hoisted himself onto the windowsill and sat on the windowsill with both legs hanging outside the window, according to the suit.

As Jackson was sitting on the windowsill, Klinge shot Jackson in the chest “without warning,” Laskin wrote. Immediately after Klinge shot Jackson in the chest, Jackson pled, “Don’t shoot me again, I give up,” according to the suit.

Klinge then pulled Jackson out of the windowsill and onto the ground outside the hotel room.

Jackson would later die from his injuries at Barton Memorial Hospital.

The suit alleges the city breached its duty to the public by failing to discipline officers involved in the incident. The failure “demonstrates the existence of an entrenched culture, policy or practice of promoting, tolerating and/or ratifying with deliberate indifference the making of improper detentions and arrests, the use of excessive and/or deadly force and the fabrication of official reports to cover up the misconduct of peace officers,” according to the suit.

The suit also alleges police offers have “engaged in a repeated pattern and practice of making improper detentions and/or false arrests and using excessive, arbitrary and/or unreasonable force against individuals,” and the police department displays “deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of primarily minority citizens.”

The suit asks for a jury trial and seeks lost income, medical expenses, funeral costs and punitive damages.

Klinge has been on paid administrative leave while the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office investigates the shooting.

Whether the office will pursue criminal charges against Klinge remains unknown. The office recently received all of the reports surrounding the case, said spokesman Dave Stevenson. The office expects to make an announcement surrounding whether it will pursue criminal charges in the case in coming weeks, he said.

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