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Attorneys representing paralyzed Colorado Springs shooting victim speak out Tuesday

Denver-area law firm filed civil suit

Attorneys representing paralyzed Colorado Springs shooting victim speak out Tuesday

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. - The Ramos law firm in suburban Denver held a news conference at its office Tuesday to explain why it filed a civil lawsuit against 15 officers and entities in the shooting death of El Paso County Deputy Micah Flick a year ago.

The firm's client, Thomas Villanueva, 29, was accidentally shot by the suspect in the same shooting and is paralyzed for life and confined to a wheelchair.

Villanueva is a Ramos client but did not attend the news conference.

An investigation of the incident -- in which a task force was trying to apprehend a stolen vehicle suspect at an apartment complex -- cleared Colorado Springs police, El Paso County Sheriff's deputies and a state trooper of any wrongdoing.

The lead attorney for Ramos, Joseph Ramos, said a civil suit gives Villanueva a better chance than in a criminal case of collecting damages or restitution.

"Law enforcement officers and governmental entities have immunity from prosecution in such cases," he said.  "But we think the officers in this case acted under orders and protocols from higher up.  Without a game plan, it's almost certain there will be some form of disaster.  And that's what we believe happened here."

Ramos said the lawsuit isn't about trying to make money for themselves and their client.

"We filed the lawsuit to protect Villanueva's rights," he said.  "By law, we have to file within a certain time period or we lose any possibility to file a claim.  He's not going after the officers specifically. He just wants the parties involved to take responsibility for what happened to him.  It took us more than six months just to get an explanation of what happened from authorities.  Why did it take so long?"

Ramos also said the task force action involved officers who had not worked together enough and didn't identify themselves as officers.

"That put officers like Deputy Flick, as well as our client, in a dangerous situation," he said.

Ramos said it's unlikely the suit will be settled out of court.

"We're ready and are looking forward to trying this case," he said.

Villanueva's attorneys also are concerned about his reputation being tarnished by people who question his motives.

"He's he's getting hate mail from Facebook messages," Ramos said.  "He shouldn't have to deal with that after what he's been through."

Ramos said filing the suit required seeking at least $1 million in damages.

"But we'll ultimately ask for more than that," he said.  "Mr. Villanueva's medical expenses are well above that.  The question is what's the value of being paralyzed, as an innocent victim, for the rest of your life?"

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