JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Former State Attorney Harry Shorstein's law firm is filing a lawsuit claiming the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office violated the civil rights of an unarmed robbery suspect and of a 7-year-old girl who saw her stepbrother and stepmother shot in March during a police shooting.
"If there's any case that could shock the conscience of this community, it was when police opened fire on a car filled with three innocent people," Shorstein said.
For that reason, he said his firm has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the officers of violating the civil rights of 7-year-old Alexis Cooper.
The girl was not wounded, but was in the car and saw her 2-year-old stepbrother, Daniel Creighton, and her stepmother, Joanne Cooper, shot when police shot and killed a man attempting to carjack them.
Shorstein said he plans to argue in federal court that, "firing 42 rounds into the car was gross negligence on the part of the Jacksonville officers." Shorstein said the 7-year-old suffered unbelievable stress.
In the federal lawsuit, Shortstein lists a number of police involved shootings, which he argues shows a lack of training on the part of JSO and shows a pattern of disregard for public safety.
Joann Cooper and her son Daniel Creighton filed a similar lawsuit earlier this month against the sheriff and the officers who fired at her car. It alleges the same civil rights violations.
In that case, the sheriff's office has declined comment, which is common when a lawsuit is involved. Channel 4 was unable to reach anyone at the city's General Counsel's Office, who will defend the lawsuit, for comment about this latest lawsuit.
In a separate case, Shorstein's law firm has also filed a lawsuit against the sheriff's office for the 2008 shooting of 19-year-old Jerrick Hall. Shorstein said Hall was shot in the back by police. The bullet narrowly missed his heart.
Shorstein said Hall was not armed and did not pose a threat to either of the officers, which is why Shorstein says the officer who fired should never have used deadly force.
Hall has recovered from the gunshot wound.
Shorstein said a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit on a technicality, but that he intends to refile by Sept. 13.
The General Counsel's Office has pushed Shorstein to remove himself from the case, since at the time of Hall's shooting, Shorstein was still the state attorney. Shorstein said he had no contact with the case when learned the law firm he planned to work for after leaving office was retained by Hall's family.
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