DETROIT (WWJ) - The family of a Detroit man killed by police has filed a $10 million lawsuit.
Theoddeus Gray was fatally shot during a confrontation with St. Clair Shores police outside Lakeland Manor on Harper Avenue last November. Gray's family says the 29-year-old had already surrendered when officers shot him to death. He was struck six times in a firestorm of 48 rounds fired by the officers, according to the lawsuit.
St. Clair Shores police said at the time that Gray was shot because he produced a gun and killed a department K-9 police officer, Axe. However, according to the lawsuit, the Macomb County Sherriff’s office has presented investigation materials that suggest Axe was killed by his own officers and that Gray was unarmed at the time he suffered the fatal gunshot wound.
Attorney Vince Colella said there are glaring omissions in the police investigation, which found the shooting was justified.
"The abbreviated three-week investigation was woefully inadequate to fully investigate the murder of this young man," Colella said in a statement. "Through this lawsuit, it will become clear that investigators failed to collect evidence, obtain witness statements, and in some cases, disregarded critical information, resulting in the officers avoiding criminal responsibility."
Police have yet to issue a comment on the lawsuit.
Click here to read a copy of the complaint (.pdf format)
The shooting took place Nov. 4 as a baby shower for the mother of Gray's child was taking place. Witnesses told police Gray was agitated that day.
Officers responded to the banquet hall after receiving a distressed 911 call from an employee who apparently witnessed Gray inside Lakeland Manor with a gun. When police arrived, officers and canine Axe chased Gray to a back parking lot outside of the hall. Police allege that Gray fired one shot at officers before his gun jammed. He was killed as officers returned fire.
"The suspect stopped in the parking lot of the business and engaged the officers -- the subject was ordered to drop the gun, which he did not. St. Clair Shores officer fired several more shots at the suspect until he dropped the gun and fell to the ground," said Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham.
Police dog Axe was killed during the chase. Investigators originally said Gray shot Axe, but Wickersham later said it was unclear who shot the dog.
Colella said criminal charges are not filed in the vast majority of fatal shooting cases by police officers, leaving families to only find justice through civil lawsuits.
"Litigation will shed light on these and numerous other troubling issues, and the public will know the truth as we show that the killing of Theoddeus Gray was unjustified, unconscionable and in blatant violation of his civil rights," he said.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court by Southfield-based Moss & Colella, P.C. on behalf of Gray's father against the St. Clair Shores Police, the City of St. Clair Shores and the five police officers involved in the shooting.