Family of Teen Killed by Police to File Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit
The family of a 15-year old Indianapolis teen who was fatally shot by Indianapolis police officers in August plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the city police department for negligently killing the teen and for violating his constitutional rights. The attorney representing the teen’s parents has indicated he has six witnesses who contradict the police department’s account of the situation, which included the claim that the teen helped carjack a vehicle at gunpoint and was accelerating the car toward the officers when the police fired on him.
The teen, Andre Green, died August 9 when three police officers (including two white officers and one black officer) fired on him in a cul-de-sac as he was driving a car. Police contend that Green had carjacked the vehicle he was in at gunpoint, that shots were fired from his car, that he had hit a police cruiser, that he was driving towards the officers in order to hit them, and that they shot him to prevent this from occurring. Police also said a handgun was found near Green’s body after he collapsed from gunshot wounds. His family’s attorney, however, announced that the witnesses who will testify as part of the lawsuit will provide a different account than the one police have provided. While he did not provide specifics of the witness’ account, he did indicate that witnesses will testify Green did not have a gun when he exited the car. One identified witness had previously told The Indianapolis Star that Green did not do anything to threaten the life of the officers, and that he was shot after being told to exit the vehicle. Indianapolis police have indicated that the shooting of Green was not captured on any department cameras.
The lawsuit will allege that the police officers are liable for Green’s wrongful death as a result of the officers “repeatedly and unjustifiably” discharging their police firearms without warning on Green. Wrongful death is a tort claim, and the purpose of such a claim is to compensate Green’s parents for the loss of their son. The lawsuit will also allege that the officers denied Green’s federal civil rights. Federal law allows for citizens whose constitutional rights have been denied them by government agents such as police officers to sue those agents and, in certain cases, their superiors, for violating their constitutional rights. A criminal suspect is afforded constitutional rights even if the underlying facts suggest the suspect is actually guilty of a crime. Thus, even where a suspect may have committed a crime, police officers do not have the right to deprive the suspect of his or her constitutional rights and may be liable for doing so. The family is claiming $700,000 in damages, the maximum amount allowable in Indiana.
If you or someone you love has been wrongfully killed or has been the victim of police misconduct (excessive force, brutality, unlawful shootings, harassment, etc.) in Indiana, contact the experienced wrongful death and civil rights attorneys at Lee & Fairman in Indianapolis for a free consultation.