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Family of man killed in police shooting sues; Ogden responds

Juan Mercado speaks to the media as he and his wife Rosa Mercado attend a news conference with attorney Robert Sykes in his Salt Lake City offices on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, about their son, Jovany Mercado, who was shot and killed by Ogden police officers. Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

OGDEN, Utah — An attorney representing the city of Ogden responded Thursday to a lawsuit filed against the city and four officers involved in the shooting death of a man. 

The family of Jovany Mercado, 26, says he was lawfully and openly carrying a folding knife, on his own property and was not threatening anyone when he was shot and killed by Ogden police officers Brandon Sevenski, Nigil Bailey, Karson Garcia and John Chandler Poulsen. 

The lawsuit names the city of Ogden, its police department, all four officers involved in the shooting, and ten people identified as John and Jane Doe, who allegedly trained or supervised the four officers. 

The day of the police shooting 

On August 26, 2019, neighbors attending a gathering called police to report a man with a knife threatening them near 32nd St. and Gramercy Ave. in Ogden.

In a statement released by Ogden City’s attorney, Heather White states when officers responded to the call, they found Mercado behind a carport.

Bodycam footage and surveillance video from Mercado’s home, show the officers demanding Mercado drop the knife; he did not. Mercado is seen walking toward the fence between himself and the officers. Four officers fired 20 shots, striking Mercado 16 times, and killing him.  

There are discrepancies between both parties involved regarding the violent nature of Mercado. 

Weber County Attorney Chris Allred ruled the shooting justified in March. 

Jovany Mercado’s family files lawsuit in federal court 

The family’s attorney, Robert Sykes, claims in the suit filed in federal court this week that Mercado had every right to carry a knife on his own property. 

“He was always peaceful and non-threatening,” the suit argues. “The shooting of Jovany Mercado was unlawful under rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution, the Utah Constitution, and the laws of the State of Utah.” 

The lawsuit argues the officers violated Mercado’s Second Amendment right to bear arms, his Fourth Amendment right protecting against unreasonable search and seizure, and his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process. 

On Thursday, Skyes held a video conference addressing questions about the lawsuit. 

 

“They didn’t have to shoot and kill this young man,” said Skyes. “It was improper to use deadly force here. It was illegal. It was unconstitutional. And it was a violation of his [Mercado] rights.” 

Skyes said there were other methods police could have used to control the situation. “They [the officers] had time to talk to him [Mercado] before they started shooting,” argued Skyes. He states Mercado was 15 to 20 feet away from the officers when they began firing.  

The Mercado family is hoping the lawsuit brings forth police accountability. 

“I want police reform,” said Mercado’s father, Juan. “I’m looking for justice. I won’t stop until I get justice. I want to see jail. I want them [the officers] prosecuted legally.” 

Ogden City responds to lawsuit 

In a news conference Thursday morning, an attorney representing the city of Ogden responded to the lawsuit by replaying body camera footage of the shooting and surveillance video from the Mercado home and walking through the facts of the case. 

 

“The officers shot Jovany in self-defense and in defense of others when Jovany came … aggressively at them with a knife,” attorney Heather White said. 

In a previous news conference with Mercado’s parents, Sykes indicated he hoped to settle with Ogden officials out-of-court; the filing of the lawsuit indicates that did not happen. 

This story will be updated.