CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CN) - A Charlotte, N.C. police officer shot to death a father of three "execution style" because he was black and was driving in a high-crime area, the dead man's mother claims in court.
Ernestine Laney sued Officer Anthony J. Holzhauer, his fellow Officer Ryan Shields, Police Chief Rodney Monroe, the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, in Mecklenburg County court.
Laney claims that her son, Michael D. Laney, 28, a resident of Charlotte's Five Points Park neighborhood, was on the way home from work on his moped on July 2, 2012, when he was stopped without cause by Officers Holzhauer and Shields.
A week earlier, Laney says, an unknown black male had tried to rob a man on nearby Beatties Ford Road and shot the victim in the back with a .410 gauge shotgun.
Seven days after that incident, she says, police were at a loss to explain their failure to apprehend a suspect, and frustrated that their investigation had turned up no more of a description than that the assailant was an unknown black male.
Laney claims that after the officers flashed their lights to indicate her son should pull over, he continued to drive a short distance - about a block - to his driveway. She says he did this due to poor street lighting and other conditions in the area that would have made stopping immediately unsafe.
During the brief exchange that followed, Laney says, her son rejected Ryan Shields' assertion that he had been stopped for cause, and he asked the officer to leave him alone and leave his yard.
"Defendant Shields grabbed him and threw him to the ground," Laney says.
Michael Laney got up and started walking toward his house.
By this time, Officer Holzhauer had arrived.
Laney says her son, the full-time guardian and caregiver for two of his three minor children, was set upon by the officers, who proceeded to tackle him on his front porch, though he was not carrying any weapon and had not done anything wrong.
"Defendant Holzhauer and Defendant Shields pinned Michael face-down on his front porch with an arm twisted behind his back," Laney says.
"In the second shooting by Charlotte police that week, Michael was killed execution style, with two officers on top of him, and a bullet to the back of the head at point-blank range," Laney says.
Laney says the use of deadly force was completely unjustified.
"Defendant Shields provoked Michael by entering his yard without Michael's consent and without legal authority or justification, and by creating a disturbance, and then resolved it by telling Defendant Holzhauer to shoot Michael," Laney says.
Michael Laney was pronounced dead in the early morning of July 3, 2012. An internal investigation conducted by Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department exonerated the officers, though no weapon was found at the scene.
Laney seeks compensatory and punitive damages for wrongful death, constitutional violations, trespass, false imprisonment, and assault and battery.
She is represented by Aaron Mayer, of Charleston, S.C.