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DALLAS (AP) — A man shot twice by police in Texas is suing several officers and the city of Fort Worth, alleging an officer shot him in the back without cause and several other officers colluded to cover up what he says are flaws in the shooting.
The civil rights lawsuit, filed Dec. 5, centers on a 2015 shooting that happened when officers responded to a report that Jeremi Rainwater had fired several shotgun rounds at a car belonging to his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend in the parking lot of a restaurant. Rainwater, who is white, said the officers surrounded his house and ended up shooting him twice without provocation.
A Fort Worth police spokesman said he couldn't comment on open lawsuits. A grand jury that reviewed the officers' use of force did not file any charges against the officers, who are part of an enhanced crime prevention task force called the Zero-Tolerance Unit.
Kervyn Altaffer, an attorney for Rainwater, said the officers were cleared because they fabricated assault charges against his client, which were dropped, and their narratives of the shooting were riddled with inaccuracies.
"He had a single handgun, not a machine gun. He never threatened the officers with it because he didn't know they were there," Altaffer said Friday. "It's ridiculous for them to allege he assaulted them. Two of the officers were still at their vehicle putting on their tactical gear."
The officers went to Rainwater's house and positioned themselves around the home. Rainwater said his dogs were barking as he tried to sleep, so he went to see what was causing their alarm. Rainwater took a pistol with him onto the front porch and looked around, but said he saw nothing because it was dark.
The narratives of what happened differ at the point Rainwater went on the porch.
The Associated Press obtained the police officers' narratives from the use of force investigation. Two of the statements said Rainwater pointed the pistol at the officers, but said he did so at different times after walking onto the porch. They said the officer who shot warned Rainwater to drop the pistol multiple times before firing twice. They said the shots struck Rainwater in the front of his body— once in the torso, once in the shoulder.
Rainwater said he never raised the gun, the police never identified themselves and the officer shot him as he was going back inside his home, both times in the back. The lawsuit alleges he has no wounds on his shoulder and says that several medical experts will testify that his wounds are consistent with the bullets entering through his back.
The lawsuit said Rainwater has spent close to $480,000 on medical bills, lost his job and had his house foreclosed upon during his recovery.
The lawsuit is one of at least three filed against the city or officers alleging excessive force. The city attorney's office referred questions to a city spokeswoman who did not return messages left Friday seeking comment.