The family of Jack Jacquez, who was murdered by police officer James Ashby, has filed a lawsuit against Ashby, the police chief in Rocky Ford, and the city of Rocky Ford, accusing the city of hiring “second-chance cops,” as the Pueblo Citizen reports.
Two years ago, Ashby entered Jacquez’s home, shot him in the back in front of his mother, and then pepper sprayed him as he lay dying. He was charged with second degree murder and became the first police officer in Colorado convicted of on-duty murder. Ashby claimed he believed Jacquez was a burglary suspect but there was no reasons offered for him to believe so.
The district attorney on the case argued the conviction offered an example of why Rocky Ford ought to be proud of its police. “Make no mistake, this prosecution happens not in spite of law enforcement but because of law enforcement,” James Bullock, the district attorney, said at the time.
Attorneys for Jacquez’s family argue the case demonstrates poor hiring and training standards at Rocky ford. “This is a case about a police department that hires ‘second-chance’ cops without any vetting,” the lawsuit contended. “It is about a police department that gave a badge to one such officer, yet failed to provide him with any training regarding excessive force, including deadly force. And it is a case about an officer who regularly resorted to excessive force but did not receive discipline for his actions.”
According to the lawsuit, Ashby was previously employed as a police officer in Walsenberg, about an hour’s drive from Rocky Ford, and was the subject of a number of civilian complaints, including over the use of excessive force. The Jacquez family’s attorneys argue the city knew about his history and that he was ineligible to be rehired when they hired him anyway, arguing that “ignoring these obvious red flags, the RFPD hired officer Ashby without any meaningful investigation into his background.”
They also allege in the lawsuit that Ashby had a pattern of using “overwhelming force against any civilians who dared challenge his authority” because he was “permitted to police by his own rules” instead of getting “any basic training.”
Ashby himself has not yet been sentenced, and his attorneys have motioned to have the case thrown out or retried based on multiple complaints about juror misconduct (ranging from one allegedly having contact with the father of the victim during the proceedings to a hard-of-hearing juror sleeping and not using a listening device) and mistakes allegedly made by prosecution. He faces up to 48 years in prison if the conviction stands and he is sentenced.