Lawsuit: Family says police lied about fatal shooting of man in downtown Fort Worth

A federal lawsuit claiming Fort Worth police covered up the wrongful shooting of a man in 2015 was re-opened this week.

Phillip ‘Flip’ Vallejo was fatally shot outside a Mexican restaurant in downtown Fort Worth on July 31, 2015, in front of his wife, Brenda Vallejo. She filed a suit against the police department, the city and the officer who shot Phillip Vallejo, Mark Ochsendorf, in 2016.

The case was temporarily stalled while the Vallejo family established an administrator of Phillip Vallejo’s estate because Brenda Vallejo had filed for divorce prior to her husband’s death.

In the suit, Brenda Vallejo says Ochsendorf shot her husband multiple times in the back and again while he lay on the ground, bleeding. She said Ochsendorf and other officers on scene lied about what happened by saying that Phillip Vallejo had a gun and pointed it at Ochsendorf.

In 2015, Fort Worth Sgt. Steve Enright told the Star-Telegram that Phillip Vallejo was waving a handgun and “turned and faced the officer as if to confront him with the weapon.”

Ochsendorf was cleared by a grand jury in Phillip Vallejo’s death and, in a response to the lawsuit, the city denied any wrongdoing on Ochsendorf’s or the city’s behalf.

The police department and the city said they cannot comment on pending litigation. Lt. Brandon O’Neil said Ochsendorf has since retired from the Fort Worth Police Department.

Brenda Vallejo said in the suit that she and her husband were leaving Ojos Locos, which used to be located at 1515 Houston Street, when a fight broke out between the two and a group of drunk men. One of the men threatened Phillip Vallejo with a gun and left.

Ochsendorf rode up on a bike to the front of the restaurant, where the couple were standing, the suit says. The officer drew his gun and pointed it at Phillip Vallejo, who Brenda Vallejo said was facing away from him. Phillip Vallejo put his hands in the air and Ochsendorf shot him multiple times in the back and continued to fire after he fell to the ground, according to the suit.

Phillip Vallejo was shot four times — twice in the left side of his chest and twice in the left side of his back, an autopsy report obtained through an open records request stated.

It is unclear if Ochsendorf captured the shooting on a body camera or not.

The suit says Ochsendorf had a body camera on his uniform but did not turn it on until after Phillip Vallejo was shot. However, a police spokeswoman told the Star-Telegram in 2015 that Ochsendorf was not wearing a camera.

After Phillip Vallejo was shot, police handcuffed him. Brenda Vallejo said in the suit her husband was still alive, bleeding and begging for help.

“The Officers responded by screaming and commanding Phillip to ‘shut the [expletive] up,’” the suit says. “Officers refused to remove the handcuffs despite the fact that he was of no threat to anyone and needed emergency medical attention. Instead, they deliberately chose to leave him lying on the pavement in a prone position.”

Phillip Vallejo, 30, died at the hospital.

Brenda Vallejo said in the suit she was put in the back of a police car and held at the Fort Worth Police Department station for hours without just cause.

Numerous surveillance cameras captured the incident, but footage was not released by police.

In the suit, Brenda Vallejo said “police collectively agreed to adopt a false version of the events leading up to Phillip’s homicide to prevent anyone from discovering their unlawful conduct.”

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Kaley Johnson is a breaking news and enterprise reporter. She majored in investigative reporting at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has a passion for bringing readers in-depth, complex stories that will impact their lives. Send your tips via email or Twitter.