Police Shooting Of Unarmed Black Man Brings About $10M Lawsuit

Kevin Matthews's family has filed a $10-million wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Dearborn.

One can spend long hours just trying to call the names of all the innocent victims of police shootings. Nothing can bring these people back so it only depends on us whether their murderers will be punished or not. The family of one of the countless Black men shot and killed by police had the dignity and the courage not to give up and try to make not just one killer cop but the whole city administration pay for the wrongful death of their relative. Below you will find the detail of the story taken from the most reliable sources in the city where the incident took place.

Detroit Free Press

A $10-million wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against the City of Dearborn in the fatal shooting of Kevin Matthews at the hands of a police officer, who is also being sued individually.

The complaint, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Detroit, says that the officer used excessive force in shooting Matthews nine times as he was trying to arrest him on the afternoon of Dec. 23, 2015, near the Detroit-Dearborn border.

Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that the police department’s officers are not properly trained.

Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad could not immediately be reached for comment late Friday.

Police have said Matthews, who was wanted on a probation violation warrant, was shot during a struggle. His family said the 35-year-old man was mentally ill and unarmed. The shooting sparked protests.

The lawsuit filed by Matthews’ estate says the officer saw Matthews walking and began to chase him to a backyard of a home on Whitcomb in Detroit, where Matthews was “boxed in.”

In order to arrest Matthews, the lawsuit says the officer “reverted to the use of excessive force and shot his departmental issued handgun from defendant City of Dearborn a total of nine times into the chest and torso of … Kevin Matthews, and in essence, executing (him) … as a result of his failing to stop during the aforesaid foot pursuit.”

The lawsuit says the department had failed to properly train its officers, especially in the wake of a number of well-publicized police shootings nationwide in the preceding few years, how to deal with people who have mental health issues without using excessive force. See more

The Detroit News

Loved ones have described Matthews, an African-American who was unarmed, as harmless and said he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Dearborn police, however, have said Matthews was wanted for a probation violation and fled officers after allegedly committing a larceny in that city. Authorities also said he reached for an officer’s gun before he was shot at the Dearborn-Detroit border.

The lawsuit contends Dearborn “failed with deliberate indifference to train and instruct its officers on patrol, coming in contact with the public, on how to de-escalate situations with unruly or combative citizens, including those with mental illness.”

Reached Friday night, Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad said he had not yet seen the lawsuit and declined comment until doing so.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled the death of Matthews a homicide. The case has long been controversial and prompted protests.

The city’s policing gained further scrutiny just weeks after Matthews died.

In January, a city police officer fatally shot a Detroit woman outside of Fairlane Town Center. That case prompted a similar lawsuit in August.

Janet Wilson, 31, of Detroit, was shot by a police officer on Jan. 27 following an argument at the Dearborn mall. The officer was placed on administrative leave.

Witnesses told investigators Wilson seemed “distraught” and incapacitated. Michigan State Police investigated the incident and said she later appeared to have tried to hit a security guard and a vehicle with a Chevrolet HHR, refused to stop for police who tried to pull her over, then almost struck an officer while speeding away.

Wilson’s death from multiple gunshots was also ruled a homicide. Her family now is suing the city and the police officer for $10 million in damages, alleging the department knew of the officer’s history of excessive force.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the two deaths, federal officials have announced plans to review the Dearborn Police Department’s use-of-force policies as well as provide additional training to officers.

In the Matthews case, the Friday complaint asserts although he bore no weapon and did not have violent tendencies, an unnamed officer “executed” him with nine shots from a department-issued handgun in a fence-enclosed backyard on Whitcomb.

Following a rash of fatal police-involved shootings across the country, the city “had duties and obligations to assure” its force was properly trained to handle interactions, the lawsuit claims. But, lawyers alleged, Dearborn “has repeatedly permitted and condoned … unequal treatment of its police activities against African-Americans in and around the city …” See more

Neither $10M nor any other amount of money will soothe the grief of Kevin’s relatives though the sum of the settlement seems to be big enough to make local police department lose the illusion of impunity and understand that they’ll have to pay, no matter what they do. We wish the Matthews family  all the best and hope the justice will be served. Police shootings should be stopped so that we could go and let our children out fearing nothing.

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