Federal courthouse
Federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

A National City police officer who was shot after sheriff’s deputies opened fire last year on an auto theft suspect has filed suit against San Diego County and the deputies.

The shooting took place on the night of Feb. 16, 2022, after members of the multi-agency San Diego County Regional Auto Theft Task Force pursued a suspect into an El Cajon cul-de-sac.

Among the task force members was National City police Det. Rowdy Pauu, who was working in plain clothes in an unmarked car, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in San Diego federal court.

After the suspect was surrounded by Pauu and others from law enforcement, two sheriff’s deputies responding to the scene opened fire after the suspect got out of his vehicle while holding a knife, the lawsuit states.

The San Diego County sheriff’s deputies fired multiple times and Pauu, who was situated behind the suspect, was shot in the leg.

The complaint alleges the deputies “started shooting without a warning” and at the time, “the suspect was moving towards the ground” and “had made no movement towards the deputies or anyone else.”

The suspect was also shot and hospitalized for his injuries.

The lawsuit named David Lovejoy and Jonathon Young as the sheriff’s deputies who opened fire.

Following the shooting, the complaint alleges Lovejoy told auto task force members “that he saw Detective Pauu in his line of sight, but he fired anyway because he thought he `could make the shot.”‘

The complaint states some of the bullets fired also struck homes behind Pauu.

According to the lawsuit, doctors have been unable to remove the bullet from Pauu’s leg due to the risk of exacerbating his injuries. The shooting has left him unable to work for several months.

“He has been consistently attending physical therapy, but will most likely deal with this pain and the reminder for the rest of his life,” according to the complaint.

– City News Service