San Diego approves $500,000 in settlement with boy wounded by off-duty cop

by on July 27, 2011 · 17 comments

in San Diego

SDPD Officer Frank White in dark glasses in 2008. White is still with SDPD.

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.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Sunshine July 27, 2011 at 11:44 am

an angry man with a gun and no fear of recrimination? sounds like a dream city for thugs with no moral conscious and deep pockets…way to go City of San Diego. way to stand up for mother’s and disabled children. sure hope you’re proud enough to sleep in peace at night


Gordon Wagner July 27, 2011 at 12:23 pm

And what would happen to YOU, dear citizen, should you empty your pistol into another driver’s vehicle?


Bill Ray July 27, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Stupid megalomaniacs.


Laurence E. Gibbs August 1, 2011 at 12:06 pm

This is an example of our Judicial System that rewards criminals for being criminals and allowing them the green light to act like the mindless leaches of society that they are without reprocussions and giving them a payday all at the same time! This is UNEXCEPTABLE!!

If the off-duty officer, Mr. White tried to avoid the confrontation, and when trapped, delcare himself as an “off-duty officer” with a weapon…then he, as with all of us law-abiding citizens (who are threatend with a crazy and confrontational person) has EVERY right to protect himself and his loved ones with enough/appropriate force to stop the assialent from causing them harm!

I am so sick and tired of violent offenders, criminals, and people with no regard for others and for whom feel that civility, courtesy, common sense and decency does not apply to them getting away with being assholes to society and being rewarded for being said assholes!

Enough is enough folks! We, the honest, hard working individuals who want a peaceful life, nice areas in which to bring up a family and make the world a better place for furture generations, must get our balls back and stand up against these assholes who cause harm and mayhem just because the mood suits them!

We, as a society must show those who cause harm to our society that their acts of harm will no longer go unchecked and that they WILL be punished, either by the law or if forced into the back-against-the-wall situations that they put us in, they WILL be punished by US! Because if I am threatened or my faimly is threatened by one of these assholes…you bet your bottom dollar, I will put them in the ground before the have a chance to harm me or my family or have an opportunity to harm anyone else.

Trust me, I am not some hard-core, weapon carrying extremist…however…I refuse to become a victim because some asshole loves to cause pain and misery…I refuse to take that and ALL of us honest folk out there should start feeling the same.

As always…I could be wrong and I could have my head way up my sphincter…however…that’s “This Jews Point of View”.


Frank Gormlie August 1, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Laurence – really confused by your comment. Who are the “mindless leaches of society”? BTW, our criminal justice DOES NOT reward people convicted of crimes, and I can say that as a criminal defense lawyer, so who are you speaking about? Are you calling Officer White a mindless leech? Also, BTW, violent crime is way down. So why now are you “so sick and tired”?


Laurence E. Gibbs August 1, 2011 at 2:46 pm

I apologize Frank if my rants are not clarified. Let me try this; Officer White was in his right to protect himself, based on the evidence given, as highlited in the article.

Ms. Silva was totally in the wrong, irresponcible and reckless without regard to Officer White, his wife and most importanly…her son! And we, the tax payers, thus rewarded her (inadvertanly through her child who suffered because of her stupidity) and becoming a mindless leach to society.

Frank, I know you are a learned person and you know the difference between those who do something stupid one time that for the most part falls into the victimless crime catagory…and then there are the ones who habitually do things that cause others harm and/or damage in various ways without regard to who they harm or do damage to…again…an example of being a mindless leach to society.

In regards to violent crimes being way down, not according to what I have seen in my area and within the news stories within San Diego…but I’ll take your word for it. My alterior focus was/is on just the outright lack of civility, courtesy and regards for others that I witness each and everyday by those who feel it is ok to be walking asshole (and I think we’re all intelligent enough to understand what instances I speak of and I’m sure we’ve all witnessed said instances or have been a victim of such)…it is a combination of what the article is about and what I have previously mentioned that I am sick and tired of…aren’t you?

Frank, you and I grew up in a different time and age and remember when people (although not perfect by any means), were at least a little more civil and courtious to each other…you would think we would be better as time goes on…unfortunately…we have not.

I do look forward to your reply and I hope I clarified my rant.


Frank Gormlie August 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Laurence, you sound like a compassionate person, but when you start calling people “mindless leaches (sic)” you come very close to be taken off of our comments. We don’t tolerate comments that debase humans and you just did it. So, do you wish to retract some of your statements?

Besides that, Officer White was not in the right. And that’s why the City settled this case for a half mil.


mr.rick August 1, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I’m trying to understand why being a “JEW” has any thing to do with anything? I’ve seen this reference in your (or someones) comments before. Explain this to us. As for cops just whipping the hardware out and blasting, is that what youb are condoning? If some asshole shot shot me or one of mine, I’d be laying for said asshole.


Laurence E. Gibbs August 1, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Hey Rick…being a “JEW” has nothing to do with anything with the exception that I am a Jew, and everything that I comment on is MY point of view…it’s kind of like a humorous tag-line that I use.

As I noted above…I am not condoning what Officer White did…however…based on the circumstances he was faced with…I am not placing blame on him to the point where we, the tax payers have to pay for what transpired. Mrs. Silva acted irresponcibly, aggressively and without regard to Officer White, his wife and, as I mentioned above, most importantly to her own child. It is SHE who was at fault and I am against her actions being rewarded (although through her son) by us, the tax payers! If Officer White was at fault…the it is his responcibility to pay for his actions…but he was aquitted and found not at fault (I know, redundant)…so why does the city have to pay for the damages that she brought upon herself because of her aggressive actions while being intoxicated? I just feel that this caase was another example of our Judicial System being more permissive of bad behaviour than actually punishing those whose actions are a danger to others.

And I agree with you, if through no fault of my own, through no agressive action on my part was fired upon by someone acting in a clear-cut dangerous manner…i would be in my full right to shoot that person down to protect myself, my family and/or others who might become harmed by said persons aggressive actions.

I hope this clears up the confussion.

Thanks for the reply.


Frank Gormlie August 1, 2011 at 3:16 pm

The City could see the writing on the wall, that if this case ever went to a jury, the City would lose. And this is because a civil case does not have the same level of proof needed. Remember the civil part of the case against OJ Simpson? He lost that while winning the criminal part.


Laurence E. Gibbs August 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Thank you Frank for how you started your reply, I do appreciated it. However, I will not retract my statement because I feel that anyone who causes violent, physical, psychological and/or financial harm to others without regard to how that harm effects those to which the harm is caused is a “Mindless Leech to Society” and it is unfair of you to censor my statements when I have not incited harm to any particular group thorugh hate for any said groups. I only hate the tolerance for those who feel it is ok to victimize society and how our Judicial System does not allow those of us who want to live in peace to protect ourselves when put in an unfortunate circumstance where we must do so. And that our system does not punish those fully for the crimes they committ.

Plus, according to the article above:
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 City settled needlessly.


Frank Gormlie August 1, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Laurence, I don’t know where you live. The City would not have settled if it thought it could win in court. Did you read my last comment? The City settled because it had to, that a jury would have found White guilty. Do you understand the diff between criminal jury trials and civil jury trials? Did you understand my comment re OJ Simpson?

Plus, it just is not true that our criminal justice system doesn’t punish miscreants. California has one of the most punitive and unhuman justice systems in the country. You make bold assertions, my friend, without any back-up.

Our comment policy here is based on dialogue and not insults. Again, you were calling fellow humans “leeches” and if you continue to do so, you will not be commenting here.


Laurence E. Gibbs August 1, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Thank you Frank, and yes, I do now the difference between the two. In regards to not having any back up to my assertions…I can name a recent one right off the bat: the Fabian Nunez case…read on:

He was guilty as sin, yes…he pleaded guilty and there was more than enough evidence to support his guilt. After such an incredibly senseless act…all the selfish, spoiled, and privileged little bastard received for his crime and plea-deal was 15 years…15 YEARS! That’s it! Then our moron of a Governor tried to secretly reduce the little bastards sentence because Fabian’s daddy was very well connected!

Now I ask you! Was JUSTICE served?! NO!

So, quell my passion for what is right if you feel you must by deleting my posts. But remember this…it is only because you disagree with me and nothing more. So what if I called those who hurt others because of their lack of any thing remotely resembling integrity, decency, compassion and honor for treating others with courtesy and respect, “Leeches”! SO what if I hurt their feelings! For G-d sakes! You think what they have done and continue to do is any less offensive? Seriously?! Come on Frank! I know you are a “Defense Attorney” and that some people truly are charged for unfounded reasons and they do need representation…but again…come on! You, more than anyone out there, knows that there are just some people out there who hurt, victimize and do horrible, horrible things to others because of a twisted sense of enjoyment or “rush” that they get while doing what they do! What SHOULD we call those people Frank? I am sure others can come up with FAR worse than what I have labeled them.

So, again…don’t agree with me…that’s fine…but don’t censor me because you do not. For if you do…then you will just show others that you cannot have an honest debate with someone who does not agree with your point of view.


Laurence E. Gibbs August 1, 2011 at 7:19 pm

And just for the record…Do I feel bad for the boy that had to suffer because of his mothers stupidity and confrontational behavior? Of course I do, it is a shame he had to be put in such frightening circumstances because of his mothers incredibly poor judgement and actions. However, that does not mean we have to pay for her combative and potentially deadly behavior.


mr.rick August 1, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Maybe someone who can’t hit what he’s shooting at should not be issued a gun in the first place. Or maybe Mom was hanging on his gun arm and spoiled his aim. If you are in authority and shoot the wrong person, maybe your employers should have to pay.


Jimmie August 6, 2011 at 6:33 am

The policeman was correct and within his rights. I am happy to see the trial outcome. I am also happy to see that the policeman has returned to work.

The mother was wrong, and should be in prison.


Frank Gormlie August 6, 2011 at 9:42 am

Did you understand the outcome of this settlement? The City paid the boy who was shot by the cop half a million dollars. Did you get that? There was no trial. The cop was wrong and the city knew it could not win at trial. White should not be working as a cop.


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