Settlement reached in Roosevelt High shooting death suit

The Fresno BeeJanuary 4, 2013 

A Fresno police officer who was injured when a Roosevelt High School student attacked him, prompting the officer to fatally shoot the teen, has reached a $230,000 settlement with Fresno Unified School District.

Officer Junus Perry, 43, of Fresno, sustained a severe neck injury and fractured skull on April 16, 2008, after Jesus "Jesse" Carrizales snuck up behind him during a lunch break and hit him on the head with a wooden baseball bat, knocking him to the ground.

As the youth was poised to strike again, Perry shot the 17-year-old special education student, who was classified as emotionally disturbed. Fresno police officials termed the shooting as self-defense.

As a campus police officer, Perry interacted with students and helped them with school and home issues to prevent violence. But district officials never told Perry that Carrizales, who was allowed to roam unsupervised among fellow students, had mental illness. The boy's family said he was taking Lexapro, an antidepressant, and Geodon, an antipsychotic medication, for depression.

If Perry had known of the boy's mental condition, he might have been better prepared to deal with him, said his lawyer, Warren Paboojian.

In addition to his physical injuries, Perry was traumatized by the fatal shooting, Paboojian said.

Perry, an 11-year veteran who is no longer a police officer, had never met Carrizales and didn't know that school counselors had prepared reports showing that the teen wanted to die at the hands of a police officer, Paboojian said.

One issue unresolved from the suit is whether the "fireman's rule" applies to Perry's case. The rule says that a public safety officer can't sue a homeowner or business owner -- or a school district in this case -- for injuries sustained in responding to a crime or fire.

Paboojian said his client was attacked and may not have been subject to the rule.

The financial settlement was reached before a decision could be made about whether the rule applied to Perry, Paboojian said.

It resulted in "a fair and reasonable settlement all the way around" because both sides knew they could lose money depending on the judge's decision on the fireman's rule.

"We took less than we wanted and they probably paid more than they wanted," Paboojian said. "My client is happy it's resolved and he is glad to move on with his life."

School district officials and their lawyers did not return phone calls on Friday.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6166, mbenjamin@fresnobee.com or @beebenjamin on Twitter.

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