A woman injured during a brief but furious gun battle between a man she was talking to and police has filed a civil-rights lawsuit against the city and the police officers involved, alleging she's been left with permanent physical and mental scars because of the "unreasonable and excessive" force used even after the man was down.
Niquel Reid's filed suit this week in US District Court in Boston against 13 police officers involved in an incident on June 14, 2011, when Tyrone Cummings shot a police officer - who, along with other officers returned fire, leaving Cummings with injuries that led to his death a month later.
Cummings, authorities say, had shown up at his girlfriend's apartment on Dunbar Avenue intent on killing her. In her suit, Reid says the girlfriend is her sister and that as Cummings raged in the apartment, she called Reid. Reid said she drove over get her sister and her young daughter.
Her suit says she arrived to see Cummings exiting the building, and the two were talking when police showed up. According to the suit:
The Individual Defendants asked Plaintiff words to the effect of, "what's going on," and "are you okay?" As Plaintiff and the male were simply engaged in normal conversation and Plaintiff had neither been threatened nor had any reason to believe she was in any physical danger, Plaintiff responded that she was fine.
Plaintiff is a law abiding member of the community and had neither committed any crime nor was threatening any person. Further, the officers had no reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that Plaintiff had committed or was about to commit any crime.
Completely unbeknownst to Plaintiff, however, and to her great shock, terror, and surprise, the male apparently had a handgun in his clothing, which he produced and fired a single shot towards the Individual Defendants.
Notwithstanding that Plaintiff, her sister and the young child – all innocent bystanders -- were at most a few feet away, and that the densely populated neighborhood was beginning to bustle with work and school day activity, defendant Marando and at least one other officer unleashed a barrage of gunfire towards the male, leaving Plaintiff and her family members directly in the line of fire with no means of escape.
Upon information and belief, the officers felled the male almost instantly, striking him multiple times in the chest. Nevertheless, they continued firing in an excessive manner, discharging their weapons at least thirteen (13) times, and, in the process, striking Plaintiff in the left leg as well as piercing a window in the public elementary school a block away.
As the Individual Defendants had left her completely exposed and on her own during and immediately after the shooting, Plaintiff had to scream for someone to come and help her after the shooting ceased. An officer finally came over to her, laid her down on the ground, and fashioned a tourniquet from her shoelace to stem the heavy blood loss, while the other officer stood over her boasting about their shooting of the male.
Reid says that in addition to permanent scars from the entry and exit wounds, she suffered Achilles tendon damage that "has left her with continued physical impairment and a permanent and disfiguring scar several inches in length." She adds she continues to need mental-health treatment to help her deal with "the extreme fear, anxiety, and other emotional effects of the incident."
Reid's suit alleges the shooting violated her Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights when the police used "unreasonable and excessive" force that left an innocent bystander with permanent issues.
The Individual Defendants acted in a negligent manner by opening fire and firing their weapon excessively given that Plaintiff and other innocent bystanders were in the immediate zone of danger without means of escape, and by such extreme and outrageous conduct caused Plaintiff extreme emotional distress, anxiety, and fear for her life and the lives of her and sister and young niece, in addition the physical harm she suffered. ...
Upon information and belief, the City breached this duty by failing to properly train and/or supervise the Individual Defendants such that as a direct and proximate result of such failures the Individual Defendants fired their weapons excessively and indiscriminately under the circumstances, on a busy residential street and school zone with no fewer than three innocent bystanders in the immediate zone of danger and failed to ensure the safety of such bystanders prior to the use of lethal force to subdue the suspect; otherwise fired an excessive number of bullets, particularly after the suspect had already been felled; and aimed and/or targeted their weapons so inaccurately or carelessly as to strike Plaintiff and the nearby elementary school.
Reid seeks compensation and punitive damages.