Sheriff’s Deputies May Still Face Wrongful Death Suit

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – Despite the findings of the Loudoun County Commonwealth Attorney James E. Plowman that the responding deputies of the Loudoun County acted in “justifiable self-defense,” a wrongful death civil suit can still be filed by the heirs or estate of Filipino American Mylene de Leon Scott.

Filipino American human rights lawyer and Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) Arnedo Valera said MHC is bringing the findings of Plowman up to the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia. He will ask the Attorney General to review the findings and demand for the prosecution and filing of charges against the deputies for homicide.

“The findings constitute travesty of justice. For when police exercise their powers to use force, it must be compatible with human rights. The use of force by the deputies should always be human rights compliant and if use of force is necessary, police should always exercise the utmost restraint, minimize damage and injury and more so death.” Valera said.

“Lethal force should only be used as a last resort. With these findings, Justice was the one killed.”

According to Plowman, the deputies committed a “justifiable homicide,” when they killed Ms. Scott, a 38-year-old food server at Sterling store in Virginia, when she charged at them while holding a knife and a scissors.

Deputies responded at 3 p.m. last May 29, 2013 to a report of disorderly person at U.S. warehouse Costco chain. When they arrived, they found Scott “behaving erratically” and wielding a 13-inch knife and a pair of scissors.

TASER STILL BEING ANALYZED

When Scott refused to respond to request to drop her weapons, deputies tried to subdue her with Tasers but showed no reaction.

But it was not clear if the Taser failed due to mechanical problems or human error as it is being analyzed.

Scott then charged at the three deputies with a knife and scissors raised. One of the deputies identified only as K. Foster fired five shots, four of them killed her.

Plowman said, “The deputy’s actions constituted a justifiable homicide undertaken in self-defense of others.”

The shooting incident in Sterling calls to mind the case involving the death of a 25-year-old Vietnamese mother of two in San Jose, California in 2003. A local police officer entered her home in response to a call to investigate a report of a child in the street.

When the officer saw the woman holding a vegetable peeler, the officer claimed he thought it was a knife. Purportedly fearing for his life, the officer fired a single shot at the woman, killing her.

Although a criminal grand jury did not indict the officer, the victim’s family filed a suit against the City. The suit claimed a violation of the victim and the victim’s civil rights, as well as wrongful death, loss of future support and funeral and burial expenses.

It was reported the parties later entered into a two-day mediation. Several expert witnesses, including an audiologist, an otolaryngology specialist, an accident reconstruction specialist, an economist, a forensic scientist, a licensed clinical psychologist, and two Asian culture and history experts to demonstrate the civil rights violations, the wrongful death and its economic impacts. The City settled the case for $1.825 million without a trial.

The law offices of Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook of Walnut Creek, California assisted in the settlement of the case.

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