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The Chicago civil rights attorney has filed a lawsuit against the Winnebago County Sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot the teenage boy, as well as against the Sheriff and Winnegbago County.
Attorney Bill Foutris, of Foutris Law Office, Ltd., recently filed a complaint in federal court on behalf of the family of a 16-year-old boy who died after an off-duty Winnebago County Sheriff’s deputy shot him three times in the back. The boy was unarmed at the time of a shooting, which occurred in October 2011. The defendants named in the wrongful death and misconduct lawsuit included the deputy, Winnebago County Sheriff Richard Meyers and Winnebago County.
Some of the complaint’s allegations state that the deputy violated the victim’s civil rights, used excessive force, failed to provide medical care and failed to summon paramedics in a timely manner. The six-count lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois’ Eastern Division, also states that the deputy “acted in an intentional, willful and wanton manner and/or in utter disregard for" the victim’s safety.
The shooting followed an incident at a small, carryout pizzeria in Rockford, Ill. In which a robbery suspect displayed a gun. The deputy, who happened to be present at the time, shot and immobilized the suspect. He next shot and critically wounded two other unarmed men who were trying to leave the scene. The teenage boy, who was not carrying a weapon, also tried to leave the scene and was shot three times in the back by the deputy.
The boy’s family is alleging that the deputy did nothing to provide medical assistance to the teenager, who lay bleeding in the parking lot until he died from his injuries. The parking lot was located right across from a hospital.
The deputy received support for his actions from Sheriff Richard Meyers. In a statement released by the Sheriff’s department several weeks after the shooting, Meyers stated that he believed the deputy’s actions complied with department policies and procedures and that the deputy acted according to proper police training. He then nominated the deputy for a law enforcement award to recognize his actions.
The teenager’s family said in the complaint that they believe the department is “sending the unmistakable message to Sheriff’s Deputies that shooting unarmed teenagers in the back is proper," and is therefore directly encouraging similarly abuses to occur in the future.
Foutris stated that the teenager would still be alive today if it not for the gross misconduct of the deputy. He pointed out that the victim was an unarmed minor who was running from the scene.
“He was a 16-year-old who was shot in the back not once, but three times even though he did not present a threat" to the deputy, Foutris said.
The victim’s family is currently being restricted from viewing video footage of the entire incident, which was captured by the pizzeria’s video security system. It became known that the footage existed during a court proceeding that was held two months after the shooting, according to Foutris. After prosecutors objected to the video evidence being shared with the defense, they were able to obtain a gag order on the video so they could prevent it from being shared with the victim’s family or the media.
Foutris is now fighting aggressively to protect the rights of the teenager’s family to receive compensation for their losses. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages from the deputy and the other defendants. With the attorney’s help, the victim’s family has the chance to obtain justice and to hold the appropriate parties accountable for their actions, which resulted in a death that could have been prevented.
Foutris Law Office Ltd. focuses on defending individuals who believe their civil rights or the rights of their loved ones are being compromised by law enforcement. If you believe that members of law enforcement have used excessive force or misconduct against your or that have been stripped of your rights to fair treatment by the authorities in some other way, contact the firm today. You could be entitled to recover damages for the injustice you suffered. More information is available at http://www.civilrightsattorneychicago.com.