The family of Emmanuel O. Okutuga wants the Montgomery County Police Department to pay them $10 million for his Maryland wrongful death. The 26-year-old Bowie State University student was fatally shot by police in Silver Spring outside the City Place Mall on February 19.
Officer Christopher Jordan had gone to the mall after reports that Okutuga had assaulted a security guard. Police say that Jordan shot Okutuga twice after the latter refused to drop the ice pick he was wielding.
Okutuga’s family contends that the shooting was unjustified. In their Montgomery County police brutality complaint, they say that witnesses testified that he did not advance on the officer or threaten him or any civilians who were there.
The plaintiffs claim that the police department did not properly train Jordan on how to use deadly force and that he shouldn’t have been allowed to handle this type of call. The family’s lawyer says that Jordan’s original statement doesn’t contain any information indicating that the situation warranted the “level of force” that he employed.
All recruits for the police department have to go through 160 hours of training on how to use force when they are trained at the Montgomery County Police Academy. The police department ranks use of force into four tiers:
• Implied force with an officer’s presence
• Verbal commands
• Physical action
• Use of deadly force
Police should never use excessive and/or unnecessary force when apprehending a suspect. Unfortunately, incidents such as the one described above are not as rare an occurrence as we’d like to think. In some instances, a police officer was just trying to do his/her job. At other times, a cop is abusing his/her authority. Either way, excessive use of force can cause serious injuries and death. They also can be grounds for a Maryland civil case.
Per the Montgomery County Police Department’s police, Jordan was put on paid administrative leave while an investigation into Okutuga’s shooting is conducted.
Family of slain man files $10 million lawsuit against Montgomery County Police, Gazette.net, March 26, 2011
Family Sues Montgomery County Police For Shooting, WUSA9, March 24, 2011
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