SANTEE, Calif. - After a seven-year battle, a federal court ruling now clears the way for a trial in the case of a Santee man shot and killed by deputies.
On an evening in September 2006, the sounds of shots were heard in a Santee neighborhood.
Shane Hayes was dead on the floor of his home, shot and killed by two deputies.
A lawsuit was filed on behalf of his then-12-year-old daughter Chelsey.
After years of legal wrangling, a federal appellate court issued a major decision that overturned a lower court decision dismissing the case with a summary judgment.
Her attorney, Alvin Gomez, says the ruling also upholds a first-of-a-kind decision requiring officers have a "duty of care," to acquire as much information as possible when responding to a call.
In this case, officers were called by Hayes' girlfriend after he tried to commit suicide by car fumes, after drinking heavily.
The deputies contend he had a knife in his hands and walked toward them. Fearing for their safety, they shot him.
The courts have determined Hayes was never told to put down the knife or stop moving.
"His girlfriend looked into his eyes and said he had a confused look in his eyes," said Gomez.
Hayes' girlfriend says he made no threatening gestures.
Gomez disputes the fact Hayes was holding the knife, but says the most troubling information is the information the deputies did not have.
"Mr. Hayes had two prior suicide attempts at that location, one by knife," said Gomez.
Gomez says the information, if relayed from the dispatcher, would have revealed Hayes was only a danger to himself.
"If they had the information, they could have used non-lethal measures like the bean-bag shotgun," said Gomez.
Gomez says before entering a home, gathering information like prior incidents or 911 conversations is now a requirement, according to the ruling.
"I think it will ultimately save lives," said Gomez.
10News was told Hayes' father is happy with the ruling and eager to getting a day in court. A trial date could be set shortly.
Attorneys for the county declined comment.