Luis Rodriguez, who now lives in Framingham, is suing Boston Public Schools and current Cedar Junction inmate Shaun Harrison over the way Harrison shot Rodriguez and left him to die out of fear the then English High School student would reveal Harrison's pot-dealing operation at the school.
A Suffolk Superior Court jury convicted Harrison last year for the 2015 shooting; he was then sentenced to 23 to 26 years in state prison.
In his lawsuit, first filed in US District Court in Boston in January, but amended last week, Rodriguez charges BPS shares the blame for what happened by promoting him to the position of dean of academies at English High despite the fact that he had shown troubling behavior years before the shooting , as he was shifted from one BPS school to another - including physically attacking a student at Boston Green Academy in South Boston in 2012.
In his position at English, Harrison learned of Rodriguez's personal and academic problems and sought to have the vulnerable teen sell marijuana to other students at the school. But when he began to think Rodriguez was stealing some of the pot and might be about to squeal, he had another of his student minions beat him up and then decided to take care of the matter himself by shooting him, prosecutors proved to the jury last year and Rodriguez's lawyer recounted in the lawsuit:
When Harrison believed Mr. Rodriguez would reveal his criminal operation, Harrison instigated another student, another child, to physically assault Mr. Rodriguez at school. Ultimately the same day, Harrison lured Mr. Rodriguez with promises of going to a party, only to create the opportunity to shoot Mr. Rodriguez execution style in the back of the head and flee the scene, letting Mr. Rodriguez to bleed to death. However, Mr. Rodriguez survived.
Police found Rodriguez bleeding from the back of his head on Magazine Street in Roxbury around 7:15 p.m. on June 3, 2015.
The suit alleges Harrison arranged marijuana sales from his English High office - even calling Rodriguez during class, which got the student in trouble with his teachers - and kept the pot in his office.
In its reply to the original complaint, BPS sought to have the case thrown out, at least against it, because Rodriguez waited too long to file it under state law.
But the school department added that even the suit had been filed within the time allowed under state law, it should still be dismissed. The injury, or tort, occurred off school property and "Harrison’s actions were unquestionably outside the scope of his employment, making the city immune from a lawsuit on those actions under the state law on lawsuits against government bodies.
BPS said that state law very narrowly defines the grounds on which a government body can be held responsible for the actions of its employees and said whatever BPS did to keep Harrison employed before the shooting cannot be used to apportion legal blame and damages to the city. It cited a case in which a claim was dismissed against probation officers who stood by while police officers beat and maced a black man even though the warrant obtained by the probation officers was for a white man 25 years younger than the man who wound up attacked in his own apartment - and then charged with resisting arrest.
BPS conceded that transferring Harrison around after the 2012 attack might have been a mistake, but added:
Those acts cannot be said to be the original cause of the harm to Plaintiff. The shooting was not a reasonably foreseeable consequence of those affirmative acts. ... The original cause of the harm to Plaintiff was the shooting itself, which was an intentional tort far outside the scope of Harrison’s employment, and thus outside of the scope of liability under [state law].