Relatives of slain Army veteran Shem Walker, who was shot and killed by an undercover cop, said they plan on suing the New York Police Dept. for wrongful death, according to the New York Daily News.
The 49-year-old victim punched the undercover officer, whose name has not been released, after he saw the man engaged in a drug deal on the stoop of his mother's Brooklyn apartment. The unnamed cop said the man grabbed for his gun, but it's not clear whether or not he identified himself as an undercover agent.
The officer was working an undercover "buy-and-bust" operation when the incident happened. The plaintiffs' New York personal injury lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, hopefully will be able to shed some more light on what exactly happened as the case moves into the discovery phase.
But Shem Walker's family, at least, doesn't believe the official report. A spokesman for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said the NYPD has not presented a criminal case to prosecutors and the NYPD's chief spokesman did not return calls to reporters requesting information about the investigation.
Shemika Walker, Shem Walker's daughter (also an Army veteran), believes the officer panicked and shot without identifying himself to her dad:
"I think they're just brushing it under the rug. It's like my dad died in vain. I don't understand why New York City cops shoot first and ask questions later."
The incident, which took place last July, was described in a Reason Magazine article as yet another drug war casualty. The officer didn't respond to Shem Walker because he was wearing an earphone in order to monitor a drug buy, according to the article, which is when the victim tried to forcibly remove him.
While not all killings result in murder convictions or even go to trial, winning a wrongful death lawsuit requires a lower burden of proof than securing a criminal conviction. Talk to a New York personal injury attorney if you have any questions.
Wrongful Death FAQ (FindLaw)
Decision In Prisoner's Civil Rights Case Claiming Excessive Force (FindLaw's U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Blog)