A lawyer representing the family of the woman and child who died when they fell from a third-level dining area at Petco Park over the weekend says they are planning to file a wrongful death lawsuit, KTLA sister station KSWB in San Diego reports.
Investigators are continuing their probe into Saturday’s incident when 40-year-old Raquel Wilkins and her 2-year-old son, Denzel Browning-Wilkins, tumbled over the railing to their deaths before to the start of a Padres game.
A witness this week told KSWB that Wilkins appeared to lose her balance after jumping up on a bench of a picnic table near the railing.
San Diego police have said their deaths “appeared to be suspicious,” but few details have been made publicly available about the circumstances of the case.
Attorney Daniel Gilleon told KSWB he met the Wilkins family Tuesday, calling them “sophisticated,” “educated” and “very somber.”
They’re in the process of putting together a joint funeral with some family still en route to the area, he said.
Gilleon said Raquel graduated from a university in Florida with a psychology degree and was working as an administrator to “help people who have come out of high school that don’t have the credentials themselves to get into colleges.”
She had been in a relationship with the child’s father for six years, living together for four years and that they’d decided to have a child together, he said.
While Gilleon represents the Wilkins family, he said he does not represent the child’s father and has not spoken to him because he didn’t want investigators to say, “Gilleon told him not to speak with us.”
When KSWB spoke to San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria Monday about the incident, he said there were “unusual circumstances around the case that we continue to investigate.” The mayor said there were witnesses who were “clearly traumatized” by the events that unfolded and addressed the “mental health crisis” in the community that he argues has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Gilleon took issue with Gloria’s response to the incident. He said he’s twice emailed Gloria’s office seeking an apology, but hasn’t heard back.
“Todd Gloria doesn’t know what he’s talking about there,” Gilleon said, “and it was very insensitive to make that comment about someone he doesn’t know at all and for the family to come into San Diego to deal with all of this stuff and then realize the mayor of San Diego is defaming their loved one.
“And, by the way, the police are just about to release the names. What does that mean? As soon as police release the names, a media onslaught again and the narrative has already been set by Todd Gloria.”
In a statement provided to KSWB and other news outlets Wednesday, Gloria’s office issued that apology.
“The Mayor is sincerely sorry that he offended this grieving family,” his office said in an emailed statement. “He was attempting to make the point that the COVID-19 pandemic has put an additional mental strain on all of us and that it is okay to ask for help for any emotional challenges they might be experiencing. The Mayor and our entire City continue to grieve this family’s devastating loss and will do all we can to support them during this difficult time.”
Asked about the litigation, Gilleon remarked, “It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to see that this shouldn’t have happened.”
“When you’re taking money from people and making big bucks, they shouldn’t fall off six stories to their death from a bench that’s right next to a fence,” he said. “All sorts of ways to protect against that. More importantly, because of the urgency created by these really reckless comments by the mayor and probably what’s happening is a very, very quick — they want to reach a conclusion and shut this case down.”
He continues: “The only way I can start issuing subpoenas and doing the investigation the police should be doing is by filing a lawsuit, getting a superior court case number and once I have that, then as an attorney, I have subpoena power and I can make people answer questions.”
It is not yet clear when the lawsuit will be filed or against whom.
A memorial with flowers, candles and other mementos was set up this week to honor the mother and child on Tony Gwynn Drive near the ballpark.