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Unarmed former Florida A&M football player shot, killed by police

The family of a former Florida A&M University football player has filed a wrongful death suit in the shooting death of the young man by a police officer. According to the lawsuit, the officer used "excessive force" in shooting the unarmed man 10 times last year in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The lawsuit alleges "wrongful death and gross negligence." The 24-year-old former safety knocked on the door of a home looking for assistance after he had an accident in his car last September. According to the Huffington Post, a police officer responded to a "breaking and entering call" reportedly fired 12 shots at the young man, striking him with 10 of those shots and fatally wounding him. His family says he had moved to North Carolina, where his fiancee lived. They say he had two jobs but was planning to return to school and study to become an automotive engineer.

The officer who killed the young man is facing a "voluntary manslaughter" charge. His case is set to go to a grand jury this month. However, for the family, that is not enough. They say they were "shut out" of the criminal investigation. They say that they want to get to the truth behind his death. The family's attorney says they want to see the officer's personnel file, as well as dashboard camera video from his car – two pieces of evidence they have not yet been able to obtain. The suit names both the local county and city governments and alleges that race was a factor in the fatal shooting of the African-American man.

Relatives of the victim, including his mother, who lives in Tallahassee, point out that they have law enforcement officers in their family and that the suit is not an indictment of the police. They want to get to the bottom of why the officer used deadly force. They also say they hope it will result in improved officer training so that no other family suffers as they have.

As we see in this case, families of victims have a myriad of reasons to pursue civil litigation – many of which have nothing to do with money. Sometimes it is the only way to get access to evidence and other information surrounding the death of a loved one. Often it is an effort to call attention to a problem and to bring about positive changes.

Source: Globalpost.com, "Wrongful death suit filed in case of unarmed man killed by N.C. officer" Emily Harris, Jan. 14, 2014

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