Editor: Remember that incident up in Oceanside three years ago where an off-duty San Diego cop was involved in a road-rage incident with the mother, Rachel Silva, of an 8 year old where the boy was wounded by the officer, Frank White? Well, the San Diego City Council just on Tuesday, July26th, voted to pay $500,000 to settle the lawsuit filed by the boy’s father. Here’s more background.
By Teri Figueroa / North County Times / July 21, 2011
The father of a child who was shot by an off-duty San Diego policeman during a 2008 road rage confrontation with the child’s mother in Oceanside has settled his son’s federal civil rights lawsuit with the city of San Diego for $500,000.
Luis Silva, who sued the city on behalf of his son Johnny, agreed to the settlement in May, according to court documents. On Tuesday, a federal judge dismissed the cross complaint the city had brought against the child’s mother, effectively ending the case.
Johnny was 8 years old and in the front seat of his mom’s car when he was shot in the leg during the March 15, 2008 encounter.
Mother Rachel Silva was driving drunk when she began chasing and harassing another driver through an Oceanside parking lot for what she perceived as a slight on the road.
The confrontation ended when the driver of the other car —- off-duty police officer Frank White —- fired five shots into the car, striking Johnny once and his mother twice. The pair survived their injuries.
The child, who suffered from scoliosis at the time of the shooting, is now 12 years old.
The attorney representing the child and his father did not immediately return a call for comment.
A spokesperson for the San Diego City attorney’s office said the $500,000 sum will come from the city’s general fund. She said the city found the settlement amount “reasonable,” given the city risk of paying out a much larger sum if it lost at trial.
White’s family, reached Thursday, issued the following statement:
“Frank was cleared of any wrongdoing and was found within policy. The suspect was convicted of a felony. This settlement does not reflect any justice under the law, as civil settlements often don’t. Frank did not have a hand in this decision-making process, this was between the City and the plaintiff.”
According to court documents, the $500,000 settlement includes $150,000 in attorneys fees and approximately $20,000 in hard costs incurred during the two-year litigation.
That essentially leaves $330,000 to go toward the boy. But the money will not be paid directly to the child. Instead, it will be invested.
The victim will receive the invested settlement money in lump sums on certain birthdays after he turns 18. He will also get small monthly stipends starting at age 23.
In total, the child is guaranteed to be paid more than $540,000 by the time he reaches his early 40s. If he lives until his 70s, he will have received closer to $1 million.
The 2008 clash landed both adults in criminal court.
Prosecutors charged White with brandishing and negligently firing his gun. The case marked only the third time in 25 years that the San Diego County district attorney’s office charged an officer for firing his weapon during a confrontation with a suspect.
The clash started after cars driven by Silva and White nearly collided on Old Grove Road just south of Highway 76 in Oceanside.
Silva then followed White through the parking lot of a nearby Lowe’s, screaming, revving her engine and braking just short of rear-ending the officer, who was on his way to the market with his wife at the time of the incident, about 9 p.m. on a Saturday night.
After Silva used her car to block White’s, and then scraped his car with hers, the officer emptied his five-shot revolver.
At his trial, White and his wife said they feared Silva was out to kill them. White said he identified himself as a policeman during the encounter, and did not see the child in the car before the shooting, which happened about 9 p.m. on a Saturday night.
White was acquitted by a North County jury in June 2009, and has since returned to work as a patrol officer with the San Diego Police Department.
Silva pleaded guilty to felony child endangerment and was sentenced to five years of probation. In court documents filed last summer, Silva swore she did not threaten the officer, nor did she hear White warn her before the shooting.
The child’s father was a Camp Pendleton Marine who was in Iraq at the time of the shooting.
The settlement —- which comes four months after attorneys for the city threatened to appeal after a trial judge sided with Johnny and refused to dismiss the suit —- essentially ends the boy’s legal action against the city.