SANTA MARIA, Calif. - At a press conference Wednesday morning in Santa Maria, it was announced the family of Javier Gaona is taking legal action against the City of Santa Maria. Two weeks earlier, the 31-year-old Gaona was killed by Santa Maria Police officers following a standoff at the intersection of Broadway and Enos Street.
At the press conference, attorneys for the family said they are filing a tort claim against the city and will be seeking $3 million in damages.
The announcement drew immediate reaction on social media, especially on the KCOY 12 Central Coast News Facebook page, where dozens of comments flooded in.
The vast majority of comments were either supportive of the police or highly critical of the family's legal action.
Isai Sanchez wrote, "We need to come together as a community, support our SMPD, show them we stand by their decision as they did it to protect us."
Ricky Vital added, "I still believe the police made the right choice. They tried what they could to calm the guy and everything was in vane. I hope they don't see a dime of the money."
Katelyn Marie Smith said, "#ISupportSMPD. They did what they had to do. The police did what they had to do in order to protect themselves as well as the people who may have been watching the whole situation unravel.
Deanna Kay Thorpe commented, "This was a really sad and unfortunate situation for all. The SMPD did their job and protected their community. I feel for the family and pray for peace in their hearts."
While most of the comments were negative towards the Gaona family, there were a handful of supporters who posted their thoughts.
Rosie Avila wrote, "Good. Its about time people open their eyes to see that cops killing mentally challenged people is NOT OK."
In response to a comment which noted the police wanted to come home safe, Jesus Garcia Hurtado countered, "For them to come home they decide to end someone else's life. Instead of trying to use a taser gun. Because they didn't only shot him once. It was more than one time. Even when he was already going down they didn't stop. 9 bullets were shot at him. Unbelievable
There were also comments that basically were in a neutral position.
Janely Montano "Let it go to court. Perception is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps there will be more training for our officers. If there's nothing to fear, let the family pursue what they feel they need to do. Obviously the attorneys feel they have a case. I'm interested to see what the outcome is."
Jesus Eduardo Estrada noted, "Anyone would think differently if it was your family member, but everyone has the right to think whatever they want."
Opinions regarding the Gaona case have been quite emotional since the day of the shooting, and will likely continue to be through the upcoming legal process.
Gaona family lawyers said they plan to file a federal lawsuit once the tort claim is reviewed by the city.
To join in the conversation, you can visit the KCOY 12 Central Coast News Facebook page or kcoy.com