LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The family of a man who was shot and killed by a California Highway Patrol officer on the 105 Freeway last month spoke out before his funeral Saturday as they continue to push for change amid grief.
Attorneys for the family of Jesse Dominguez say the 33-year-old was shot seven times by a CHP officer while he laid on his back, posing no threat to the officer.
In a statement, CHP said there was a struggle which led to the officer to shoot.
"A father's job is to protect," said the victim's father, also named Jesse Dominguez. "I just think about him being on the floor, hit ... shot. I couldn't help him. I couldn't protect him."
The shooting happened in the afternoon on Nov. 19, as Dominguez walked in lanes of the 105 Freeway in Lynwood, forcing the CHP to shut down traffic.
His family said Jesse was bipolar and suffered from depression, and that the officer should have called in mental health resources to deal with him. The CHP said Jesse was armed with a Taser and used it on the officer, who "in fear for his safety" opened fire.
Dominguez's family attorney questions the presence of a Taser. The victim's father said his son was never known to carry a Taser or any weapon.
"This was a civil rights violation, and we all saw it right in front of our eyes," said James DeSimone, the family's attorney. "I mean, you had an individual who was obviously in a mentally distressed situation. He was walking on the 105 Freeway."
The Dominguez family describes Jesse as kind-hearted and a gentle giant who was passionate about music and singing. They are filing a civil lawsuit and want people to remember Jesse that way.
"Is this what we can expect when someone is having a mental crisis in the street? That the cops aren't there to keep him or other people safe? Just, 'Oh, you seem aggressive, you're going to die,'" said Jesse's sister Michelle Dominguez.
The family is also pushing for change when it comes to how officers deal with mental crisis situations.
"This might just be, like, another police brutality video to other people, but for me, that's my brother on the ground," said Michelle.
The officer involved was placed on administrative leave and the Department of Justice is investigating the incident. The family is also calling for California Attorney General Bonta to investigate.