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Wrongful death suit: Victim gunned down while seeking help

The North Carolina man was desperately seeking help after crashing his vehicle. He stumbled to a nearby home for assistance - and then a police officer gunned him down. Now, relatives of the 24-year-old victim are seeking financial compensation for wrongful death in the matter, claiming that forensic reports show that the victim was likely on his knees or on the ground when he was shot by a Charlotte officer. Family members say that the young man was simply seeking help and should not have been considered a threat by the overzealous police officers.

Although the suit is seeking financial compensation, this civil case includes other requests; specifically, family members want to see the dash-cam records of the incident that occurred on Sept. 14, 2013. That information has been withheld from the public. Attorneys in North Carolina may be able to help relatives get closure in wrongful death cases by pursuing such information through legal avenues.

Family members say that the victim was driving home after dropping off a coworker during the early morning hours on the day of the wreck. The young man reportedly worked several jobs in order to pay for his education. He had been a football player at Florida A&M University, but he recently moved to Charlotte and became engaged. The victim crashed his vehicle so severely that night that he had to kick out the back window to escape. When he sought help at a nearby home, the woman inside panicked and thought that the man was trying to break into her home.

The subsequent events are still murky. Officers say that the victim ran toward them; one shot at the man with a Taser, but missed. A 28-year-old officer shot 12 bullets, striking the victim 10 times, according to initial reports. Toxicology reports show that the victim had been drinking, but his BAC was under the legal limit for driving in the state. A criminal case is still pending against that officer. Now, relatives are simply seeking answers and financial compensation for the wrongful death, suing the officer, the local police chief, the city and the county in connection with the shooting.

Source: NBC News, "Family of unarmed North Carolina man killed by police files wrongful-death suit" Gabe Gutierrez and Erin McClam, Jan. 13, 2014

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