ANTIOCH -- A local family has sued police after their 6-year-old son was struck by a stray bullet while in the back seat of a parked vehicle during a police pursuit last summer.
The Aug. 27 incident occurred along one of Antioch's busiest traffic corridors at rush hour, as police pursued Korey Germaine, of Vallejo.
According to a complaint filed in Contra Costa Superior Court, Ngoc Diem Thi Nguyen and Carlos Alavez said their son was hit in the arm by a shot fired by an Antioch officer that went through the windshield and front passenger seat.
Police did not investigate who caused the injury, according to the suit.
About 4:30 p.m. that afternoon, officers responded to a call that Germaine pointed a gun at another driver after a road rage incident. He led authorities on a chase up and down Hillcrest Avenue, which included speeding on the wrong side of the road and running a red light, before he broadsided a car and ran off.
Germaine eventually ran toward officers, holding a silver pistol. Police chased him as he tried to run up an embankment to The Crossings Shopping Center parking lot.
In a coroner's inquest last month, a Contra Costa County jury ruled 10-2 that Germaine's shooting death by multiple Antioch officers was a suicide.
During the chase, Nguyen pulled to the side of the road to get out of the way, said attorney John Scott, who is representing the family.
Scott said the injury was the result of negligence. All police are trained in proper use of deadly force, and in this instance there was too great a chance of shooting an innocent person, he said.
City Attorney Lynn Tracy Nerland said Antioch does not dispute that the child was struck, but she would not comment on the specific allegations.
"Unfortunately, we understand that a minor, who was a passenger in a nearby car, was injured perhaps by a stray bullet fragment and/or a piece of the car window," Nerland wrote in an email. "However, the injury was not major, and thankfully no one else was hurt in what was a dangerous and tense situation."
The family is suing for "reasonable and just compensation," Scott said. He declined to comment further on the status of the litigation.
"Fortunately, the young boy was not more seriously injured. The family is thankful for that, and so am I," Scott said.
A case management conference is set for July 31.
Staff writer Matthias Gafni contributed to this story. Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.