Webb remains as defendant in Carrion’s civil lawsuit

A federal judge has rejected a motion to dismiss former San Bernardino County sheriff‘s deputy Ivory Webb as a defendant in the civil case brought by Airman Elio Carrion against Webb and the county.Carrion was unarmed and lying on his back when Webb shot him three times in January 2006 following a high-speed chase that ended in Chino.

Carrion’s attorneys moved to dismiss Webb from the civil case in January because Webb, who was fired from his position at the sheriff’s department following the incident, declared bankruptcy last year.

Attorneys for San Bernardino County opposed Carrion’s motion on the grounds that Webb’s bankruptcy does not necessitate his removal from the case.

See also:  Ex-San Bernardino County deputy Ivory J. Webb, videotaped in shooting, files bankruptcy

The county also argued that Webb must remain on the case because he must be available to testify or give a deposition about his sheriff’s department training.

Carrion, in his lawsuit against the county and Webb, alleges the county was partly responsible for Carrion’s shooting because Webb was not properly trained by the county.

Following a hearing in the case in January, Webb’s attorney, Eugene P. Ramirez, said he believed Webb had been dismissed from the suit.

But that’s not the case, said Dana Fox, an attorney for the county. Federal court rules allow any party to a lawsuit — even a co-defendant — to oppose a motion to dismiss a party to a lawsuit, Fox said.

“The county just wants to be able to defend itself, that’s all,” Fox said. “And it’s kind of hard to defend yourself in an officer-involved-shooting case where through no fault of the county the officer can’t testify.”

Carrion’s civil case against the county has long been delayed because Webb may be charged criminally by federal authorities for violating Carrion’s civil rights.

Because of the possible criminal action, Webb has said he will assert his 5th Amendment right not to incriminate himself if he is asked to testify or give a deposition as part of Carrion’s civil case.

The statute of limitations on the civil rights charges will not expire until January 2011. The county said in legal briefs that it will submit a motion to stay the civil lawsuit until the issue of possible criminal action is resolved.

Webb, of Riverside, was acquitted by a San Bernardino County jury in June 2007 of attempted voluntary manslaughter and other criminal charges filed after he shot Carrion.

Ramirez called the county’s opposition to Webb’s dismissal from the case “procedural posturing.”

“Hopefully Ivory will be dismissed from this case, as he should be,” Ramirez said.

Federal bankruptcy laws prohibit Carrion from collecting on any civil judgment against Webb, Carrion’s attorneys wrote in their motion to dismiss Webb from the case.

The county, in its response to Carrion’s attorneys, said that Webb must remain on the case because his potential liability must be established before the county can defend itself against Carrion’s lawsuit.

Otis D. Wright II, the U.S. District judge who denied the motion March 16, emphasized in his denial the unresolved issue of possible criminal charges against Webb.

“While the problems raised by this (federal criminal) investigation are uncertain, they will persist whether Webb is dismissed from this action or not,” Wright wrote.

There is currently no trial date set for Carrion’s civil case, Fox said.

will.bigham@inlandnewspapers.com

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