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Lawsuit: Fatal officer-involved shooting was revenge killing


LOS ANGELES – A federal lawsuit by the family of a man killed by Downey police last year alleges that Downey Police officers conspired to kill Steven Bours to get revenge for a fight a month earlier.

Bours, a 30-year-old Iraq War veteran and father of two, was shot to death by two Downey Police officers on March 20, 2010 after officers said he approached them with a hatchet.

U.S. Central District Court Judge Garry Feess on Tuesday ruled that Bours’ parents could amend their civil rights complaint and continue to press their claim against the city and the officers.

In the lawsuit, Bours’ parents say that officers had conspired to kill Bours because Bours had fought with their officers on Feb. 22, 2010. The claim does not specify an amount of damages sought by Bours’ parents.

Officers “agreed amongst themselves that deadly force would and should be used against Steven Bours in any future altercation,” the lawsuit said.

The department has a unwritten code of vengeance, the suit alleged.

“One of the credos by which the Downey Police Department operated was the principle that all Downey Police Department officers were bound to defend and protect the honor of any other police officer and that any police officer who failed to uphold this responsibility would be ostracized,” the lawsuit stated.

“On March 20, 2010, upon learning that Steven Bours was present on  Paramount Boulevard at approximately twilight the shooter defendants conferred, combined and agreed to implement their plan to face off with Bours in a duel,” the suit continued.

The city’s attorneys argued that the complaint is full of unfounded allegations and offers no evidence of any conspiracy or revenge plot.

“Plaintiffs readily admit that the second amended complaint states mere legal conclusions rather than allegations of fact,” said attorneys at Lawrence Beach Allen & Choi, a Santa Ana firm representing all the defendants.

The city’s attorneys also argued that only Steven Bours’ children had the right to sue.

Lawyers at Lawrence Beach Allen & Choi did not return three telephone calls. Police officials declined to comment due to the lawsuit.

Despite the objections, the suit will be allowed to continue.

Bours’ parents Ron Bours and Carole Cosentino have sued Downey, the Downey Police administration, and two officers who shot Steven Bours to death while Bours was in the street on Paramount Boulevard just south of Imperial Highway.

The feud started in February 2010 when a pair of Downey officers approached Bours while he was jogging, Ron Bours said.

The officers and Steven Bours got in a fight that ended when Bours was shot with a Taser. Bours was not arrested.

Then on March 20, Officer Chris Kurtz and Detective Jason Klevos confronted Bours on Paramount Boulevard.

Police said Bours was carrying what police initially called an ax but in later reports was referred to as a hatchet. Police reported that officers asked Bours to drop the weapon but that he refused and came toward them with the weapon held over his head. According to the suit, Kurtz shot Bours eight times and Klevos shot him twice.

Bours’ father said the weapon was a three-inch blade fastened to a stick. Bours used the contraption to work on guitars, his father said.

“My son kicked a bunch of cops’ asses after they stopped him for no reason, and so they found him and they killed him,” Ron Bours said of his son.

Bours and Cosentino also sued two officers involved in Feb. 22, 2010 fight.

Bours’ parents claim police officers violated Steven Bours’ civil rights, arguing that police harassed their son for no good reason and failed to take into account the post-traumatic stress disorder Bours suffered during gruesome battles in Iraq. The suit also alleges that officers are poorly trained, and that Downey Police did not try to render any life-saving first aid.

The Bours family have been in contact recently with the family of Michael Lee Nida, a South Gate father of four who was unarmed when he was shot to death by a Downey Police officer Oct. 22 after the officer mistook him for a robbery suspect. Nida was shot three times in the side, according to a county coroner’s report. Police said Nida fled from them twice before he was shot.

That shooting has prompted questions by many in the community about whether Downey officers are too aggressive.

Downey Police Chief Rick Esteves has offered his condolences to the Nida, and the officer who killed Nida was put on leave, he said.

Bours said residents fear the Downey Police.

“I know why(Nida) ran,” he said. “He was scared. People here are scared to death of the police.”

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