Family of woman killed by Stockton police signal plans to sue for wrongful death
STOCKTON — The family of a woman killed by a Stockton police officer during a chase in February has signaled plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the officer and the department, records show.
Tracy Gaeta, 54, was killed by Stockton Ofc police. Kyle Ribera, who fired around 30 shots after Gaeta backed into his patrol car on February 22. tries to turn his car around.
A Policy 2019 by the city “generally prohibits” officers from shooting at a fleeing vehicle.
Gaeta’s family filed a lawsuit, a precursor to a lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages for excessive force and failure to properly train officers. In written statements forming part of a press release, the family’s lawyers called Gaeta a victim of police racial profiling.
“How can a 54-year-old grandmother, unarmed, with no criminal record and only one proven traffic violation, be killed like this?” Gary Gwilliam, an Oakland-based civil attorney, said in the press release. “This officer discharged 33 rounds into the vehicle in less than 30 seconds.”
In April, when Stockton Police released body camera and dash cam videos, they included a summary of events that described Gaeta as an erratic driver who collided with another police vehicle before the deadly encounter and nearly crashed into the officer’s car a second time. Authorities say Ribera hit his head in the collision.
The video shows Ribera saying, “He’s hitting me,” before firing the first volley. Police have not released any further public statements about the shooting, citing an ongoing investigation that includes the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office.
In an April press release, Gaeta’s son, Alex Gaeta Jr., described his mother as a “warm and kind woman.” Her family believe she had a mental health crisis and are unsure why she was in Stockton that day, according to media reports.
“She always saw the light in others and it was such a pleasure to be there,” Alex Gaeta Jr. said in the press release.