Woman sues police dept., officers for $18 million in death of her son

Mother sues for $18 million for shooting death of son by police

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Louisville Metro Police body camera video shows the last moments of William Young Junior's life inside an abandoned home on Oleanda Avenue.

Police were called to the home in February in response to a burglary. With flashlights in their hands, the video shows the officers looking cautiously behind nearly every corner.

It also shows, per Young's family attorney, the officer's careless and negligent behavior.  "Under the circumstances, we believe this was excessive force," Ned Pillersdorf told WHAS11.

He says the three officers were aware Young was homeless, having found him in abandoned homes in the past.  He believes Young was likely sleeping at the time and was spooked by the officer's presence and wasn't there to burglarize the home.  Pillersdorf says Young's mother doesn't believe the officer's accounts that Young was holding a weapon.

"She filed this lawsuit because she felt that as sad as the plight was of her son, who was mentally ill, and chronically homeless, his life was worth something," he said in a phone interview.

Former LMPD Lt. Richard Pearson was not involved in this case.  However, he's seen the body camera video and says the officers had no choice but to shoot.  "Mr. Young didn't give them the opportunity to try to talk them down or try to negotiate with them or to try to do anything except defend themselves," Pearson said.

He says officers are trained to neutralize the threat and shot Young as they were defending themselves against what Police Chief Steve Conrad described as Young crouched in an ambush-style position.

"They had to act and react in the moment.  In the split second and members of the jury will be able to see that split second. They will have the opportunity to say in their own minds, 'What would I have done?'" Pearson explained.

Is it a case of excessive force?  Or self-defense?  Pillersdorf wants a jury to decide.

LMPD does not comment on pending litigation.  The Public Integrity Unit is investigating.  The three officers involved in the shooting are now back on their normal patrol duties.

Young’s family is suing the three officers and LMPD for $18 million. 

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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