Parents of Indiana 15-year-old killed by police plan lawsuit

AP News
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Posted: Sep 03, 2015 5:49 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The parents of a 15-year-old carjacking suspect who was fatally shot by Indianapolis police plan to file a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that officers were negligent and violated his constitutional rights, an attorney for the family said Thursday.

Jamon Hicks, an attorney with a California-based law firm that's represented the families of other people killed in police shootings, said he's found six witnesses who will contradict the police account of the events leading up to Andre Green's Aug. 9 fatal shooting.

Indianapolis police contend two white officers and a black officer fired on the black teen because the car he was driving struck the side of a patrol car and was accelerating toward the officers after they cornered the car in a cul-de-sac, and they felt their lives were at risk.

Hicks said some of the six witnesses have said Green did not try to hit the officers with the car, but instead was trying to flee the officers after two passengers bailed out.

Police also said the car was stolen at gunpoint, four shots were fired from it after the carjacking, and a handgun was found near Green's body after he collapsed with fatal gunshot wounds outside the vehicle.

Hicks said witnesses said Green did not have a gun when he exited the car.

The attorney declined to identify the six witnesses or provide details of their accounts. Their names are redacted in a tort claim — a precursor to any lawsuit — that Hicks mailed Wednesday to Indianapolis and state officials alerting them of the family's plans to sue.

Doug Kowalski, Indianapolis' chief of litigation, said the city had not received that notice by Thursday afternoon and he could not comment because he had not seen it.

The only name not redacted on the tort claim's list of potential witnesses is that of Allen Eaton, a 29-year-old who told The Indianapolis Star he witnessed Green's shooting. After the car entered the dead end, he said, the driver tried turning the vehicle around but backed into a police car in the process. Eaton said the officers told Green to exit the car and then opened fire.

"He didn't do nothing that made like he was threatening their life," Eaton told the newspaper.

Police have said Green's shooting was not captured by any department cameras.

Hicks said Green's family plans to file a federal lawsuit alleging improper use of deadly force and civil rights violations. The tort claim states that "without warning, at least three officers repeatedly and unjustifiably discharged their department-issued firearms" at Green, inflicting fatal gunshot wounds. It also alleges those officers "denied immediate medical care to Andre in a manner that demonstrated deliberate indifference to his constitutional rights."

"At no time during the course of these events did Andre pose any reasonable threat of violence to the respondent officers, nor did he do anything to justify the force used against him," the tort claim states, calling Green's shooting "deadly, excessive, unnecessary, and unlawful."

The filing said the family is seeking $700,000, Indiana's statutory tort claim limit for individuals. Hicks said the family's focus was not money, but "finding out what happened."