'Tarzan' Actor Ron Ely Sues Police, Claiming Son Who Stabbed Wife Was Surrendering When Cops Killed Him

Cameron Ely was shot 24 times by police after fatally stabbing his mother and trying to blame the incident on his father, Ron Ely

Cameron Ely; Ron Ely
Photo: Myspace; Matthew Rettenmund/SplashNews.com

Tarzan actor Ron Ely has filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office for its alleged role in the October 15, 2019, deaths of his wife, Valerie, and son, Cameron Ely.

In court documents obtained by PEOPLE, the lawsuit claims that Cameron was trying to surrender to police before they shot him more than 20 times. The suit also claims that the five officers on the scene neglected to give timely medical assistance to Valerie, who Cameron had stabbed.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. "The reprehensible conduct of the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department Deputies was egregious, entirely unreasonable, and, accordingly, unconstitutional," the claim alleges.

Officials were initially called to the family’s Hope Ranch home on Oct. 15 by Cameron after he fatally stabbed his mother and attempted to place the blame on his father.

According to a police press release obtained by PEOPLE last year, responding officers found Valerie, 62, inside the home, “deceased with multiple stab wounds,” and then went looking for Cameron, after his father — who was home at the time of the incident — confirmed that Cameron was the suspect.

“Deputies searched the residence and surrounding area for Cameron Ely. During the search, the murder suspect was located outside the home,” the press release said. “The suspect told deputies that he had a gun, advanced towards the deputies, and motioned with his hands as if he were drawing a weapon.”

Cameron Ely Myspace
Cameron Ely. Myspace

“In response, four deputies fired a total of 24 rounds from their service weapons, fatally wounding the suspect,” the press release continued. “When deputies were able to safely approach Cameron using a ballistic shield, they found that he had feigned being armed and did not have a weapon.”

The spokesperson noted that none of the deputies who were involved with the confrontation were injured. Ron Ely also did not suffer any injuries, but was taken to the hospital as a precaution.

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Ron Ely, Valerie
The Ely family in 1992. Ron Galella/Getty Images

The lawsuit disputes the claims of the police department, and says that the deputies opened fire too quickly.

"The shooting occurred less than 20 seconds after Defendant Deputies saw Cameron walk around the corner with his hands up, the universal act of surrender," the lawsuit alleges. "Suddenly, and without any warning or legal justification, multiple Defendant Deputies opened fire on Cameron, striking him a total of 22 times with bullets from several department issued weapons."

A spokesperson for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately return a call for comment.

Ron Ely
Ron Ely as Tarzan. Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Ron Ely is a veteran actor who is best known for playing the role of Tarzan from 1966 to 1968. Additionally, he hosted the Miss America pageant in the 1980s.

After getting married to Valerie in 1984, Ron took a break from acting to focus on raising their children. More recently, he had a role in the 2014 television movie Expecting Amish.

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