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Trial Begins In Cameron Ely Wrongful Death Case

Posted by Denis Zilberberg
Filed in Wrongful Death

Here are the indisputable facts: Deputies from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office (SBCSO) were dispatched to Ron Ely’s home on the evening of October 15, 2019. Ely is famous for playing Tarzan in the 1960s. After arriving at the Hope Ranch estate, the deputies encountered Ely’s son Cameron and shot him 22 times.

What is in dispute: Everything else about that night.

If you have lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence, the Santa Barbara wrongful death attorneys at the Law Offices of John B. Richards are here to help you through this challenging time.

The Case

After a confusing 911 call, deputies arrived at Ely’s estate and discovered Valerie Ely, Ron’s 62-year-old wife, dead from stab wounds. Police called for backup and interviewed Ron, who said his 30-year-old son Cameron was the only other person in the house when Valerie was killed and had fled from the scene.

Deputies cleared the house while the backup was en route. While searching the property, the deputies found Cameron outside. He had blood on his clothes, and the SBCSO reports, “he posed a threat,” which prompted them to open fire on the suspect.

It was later discovered that Cameron’s also had a stab wound and the blood on his clothes was his, not Valerie’s.

The Lawsuit

In July 2020, the Ely family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the County of Santa Barbara and the deputies involved in the shooting. The lawsuit claims all four deputies—Phillip Farley, John Gruttaduario, Desiree Thome, and Jeremy Rogers had conflicted statements regarding the shooting. Rogers has had two previous fatal shootings and a fatal car crash in his 16-year career. Two of these incidents garnered lawsuits; both yielded settlements.

The Ely’s lawsuit disputes how events unfolded, claiming the deputies “deliberately, purposely, and without warning opened fire on Cameron Ely,” and after 22 gunshot wounds, they “actively denied him any medical assistance for at least 13 minutes.”

The suit states that 81-year-old Ron Ely suffered from a stroke months prior, leaving him with a debilitating condition that caused memory loss and inhibited him from speaking clearly.

The Ely family alleges the SBCSO killed an innocent person without cause and has since failed to thoroughly investigate Valerie’s murder by ignoring evidence, including untested DNA.

The Lawsuit

The Ely family spent a year in closed-door negotiations with SBCSO, all for naught because the claim has now found its way into the federal District Court in Los Angeles. The trial began on February 22.

No amount of compensatory and punitive damages as specified in the lawsuit. The family has stated that they want a jury to analyze the evidence and determine what the proper damages should be.

When Should I Contact a Lawyer?

The Santa Barbara wrongful death attorneys at the Law Office of John B. Richards understand the immense gravity of losing a loved one. The legal process is the last thing a bereaved family wants to deal with. We can guide you through the complex process, manage your claim, and give you time to grieve and heal.

Contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or calling 805-683-2736.


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