The parents of a Chula Vista man accused in his wife’s disappearance and presumed death are suing the city, alleging unjust treatment by police during the months-long investigation that led to their son’s murder arrest.
The civil rights lawsuit, filed last week in San Diego Superior Court, lays out several allegations by the parents of Larry Millete, 40, who was arrested in October and charged with murdering May “Maya” Millete, who disappeared in January 2021.
In their lawsuit, Benito Leo and Judith Millete accuse the city of unlawfully detaining them, using excessive force and intentionally inflicting of mental distress on them.
Chula Vista police declined to comment on the suit because it is active litigation. The Chula Vista City Attorney’s Office declined comment for the same reason, but also noted that the city “has not yet been served with any lawsuit in this matter.”
The couple list several examples of alleged mistreatment, including an accusation that police took the Milletes’ three young grandchildren out of school in September and held them for more than eight hours without the grandparents’ consent. Doing so, the suit says, “was not only unlawful, but was intentional, extreme, and outrageous conduct.”
The couple also said an officer pushed Benito Leo Millete and pointed a gun at him during one of the searches.
The family said that during the first search, in May 2021, police forced their way into the granddaughters’ bedroom “pointing their guns at them.” They said the girls “were in shock and terror.”
Chula Vista police searched Millete’s home at least three times — in May, July and October — and the couple say authorities damaged locks, doors, walls and a kitchen pipe.
“Every time the house is searched doors and locks were broken, everything completely left opened, disorganized, completely trashed,” the suit states.
After the children’s iPads were taken during one search, the Millete grandparents bought replacements for them to use for their schooling — but police took those as well in a subsequent search.
They said police seized not just cellphones and computers, but also Benito Leo Millete’s heart monitor.
“The police officers showed no respect or compassion for the three grandchildren, who were traumatized by the multiple searches of their home,” the suit states.
The suit comes less than six months after the couple filed claims with the city, citing many of the same allegations. The claim, filed Nov. 9, did not say how much money they were seeking, only that it was more than $25,000.
The city rejected their claim two days later. Such claims can be a precursor to a lawsuit.
Larry Millete also filed a claim against the city the same day, while he was in jail. The city rejected his claim as well. He is not a party to the suit his parents filed.
In his claim, Millete points to some of the same incidents his parents did, and said his family “lost our normal ways of living.”
“They traumatized, tormented, and left my children, parents and myself horrified,” Larry Millete said in the claim.
May “Maya” Millete, 39, disappeared in January 2021 from the family’s eastern Chula Vista home. Ten months later, prosecutors charged Larry Millete with murder, citing evidence they say indicates she is dead.
Maya Millete’s last known call was to set up an appointment with a divorce attorney. Prosecutors say Larry Millete did not want the marriage to end. They say he sought help from “spellcasters” he found online, eventually asking that she have an accident or injury to keep her at home.
Authorities say he also researched plants like hemlock and pharmaceutical drugs possibly used to incapacitate.
In filings in a family court case, Larry Millete wrote a declaration that he believed his wife voluntarily left him and their children.
Larry Millete has pleaded not guilty and remains jailed without bail. He is due in court Thursday for a status hearing, and his preliminary hearing — at which prosecutors will present evidence against him — is slated for June 27 at the Chula Vista Courthouse.