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Bystander shot by Goshen Police sues city, officer

Final crime scene at Double D's Final crime scene at Double D's Final crime scene at Double D's Final crime scene at Double D's Final crime scene at Double D's Final crime scene at Double D's - Photo Courtesy The Elkhart Truth Final crime scene at Double D's - Photo Courtesy The Elkhart Truth Photo Courtesy The Elkhart Truth Original crime scene Second crime scene

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. -- A bystander who was shot by Goshen Police in April 2017 is suing the city of Goshen and the officer who shot him, according to documents filed in federal court.

Fernando Cuevas is requesting compensatory damages, lost wages and benefits, as well as attorney's fees.

On April 5, 2017, Goshen Police were involved in an investigation into a crime spree that started shortly after 9:20 a.m.

Michael Alcaraz, 19, allegedly attempted to carjack multiple people, fired shots into traffic and led police on a chase that ended in the Double D's parking lot.

At the parking lot, officers shot and killed Alcaraz.

Cuevas was also in the parking lot of the Double D's collecting bottles for recycling and was shot by responding officer, Sergeant Gregory Smith.

Cuevas alleges Sergeant Smith violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights protecting him from excessive force and unlawful seizure, substantive due process, battery, criminal confinement, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence.

Cuevas alleges the city of Goshen failed to train its employees properly in the use of firearms and/or excessive force, battery, criminal confinement, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligence.

In his lawsuit, Cuevas says at the time of the shooting he was not with or near Alcaraz when Sergeant Smith rounded a corner and shot him two times.

Cuevas was paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the gunshots.

In July 2017, the Elkhart County Prosecutor's Office declined to convene a grand jury concerning the officers who fired at Alcaraz and against Smith.

The prosecutor's press release stated, "Sgt. Smith, hearing the gunfire as he was rounding the back of the building, saw a person in the open door of a mini-van behind the building facing away from him and toward where the sounds of gunfire had been heard. Sgt. Smith’s brain was thinking “shooter” and he fired two (2) shots from his rifle at that person, striking him in the back. It was soon discovered that the man at the back of the building was our community member Fernando Cuevas, age sixty-eight (68), who was stopping to search for discarded bottles from the business, not the suspect. Mr. Cuevas has been seriously wounded and is still in the hospital being treated."

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