COLUMBUS, Ohio (CN) - Columbus, Ohio police shot a boy to death because they thought he had stolen a bicycle - but it was his bike, the boy's mother claims in court.
Phyllis L. Pearson sued Columbus, its Police Department and two John Doe police officers, in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, for the death of her son, Obee Shepard.
"On August 26, 2011, Obee Shepard was riding a bicycle in the vicinity of Forest and 22nd Streets in Columbus, Ohio," the mother says in the lawsuit. "At the same time and location, John Does 1 and 2 were riding in a police cruiser, saw Shepard on the bicycle, unreasonably surmised that the bicycle was stolen, and unjustifiably formed a hunch that Shepard was engaged in other illicit activities. Shepard did nothing that would warrant a reasonable police officer to stop, detain, apprehend, subdue, or arrest him, and John Does 1 and 2 witnessed no crime or wrongdoing by Shepard.
"Without first ordering Shepard to stop or halt, John Does 1 and 2 deliberately struck Shepard with their police cruiser and caused Shepard to be thrown from the bicycle to the ground.
"This unprovoked and aggressive act scared Shepard, who tried to flee his assailants by getting up and hobbling down an alley near 22nd Street."
The officers got out of their car and chased Shepard down the alley.
"Shepard was unarmed and posed no threat of serious physical harm to John Does 1 and 2 or to any other person in the vicinity," his mom says.
"John Does 1 and 2 ran toward Shepard, drew their guns, and shot Shepard multiple times to stop, subdue, or apprehend him. John Does 1 and 2 did not call after Shepard to stop or halt, and did not give him any other warning, before shooting him. ...
"Shepard was felled and fatally wounded by the multiple gunshots fired at him by John Does 1 and 2. Then, John Does 1 and 2 handcuffed Shepard while he lay dying. Shepard lived for a short time after he was shot and then died.
"John Does 1 and 2 used deadly force against Shepard that was unreasonable, unjustified and excessive."
Shepard's mom seeks punitive damages for wrongful death, gross negligence, loss of support, loss of consortium, her child's pain and suffering and her own, and ambulance, funeral and burial expenses.
She is represented by Clifford Arneback Jr.