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Southfield, Mich. —Dec. 21, 2016— A. Vince Colella, civil rights attorney and partner with Moss & Colella, P.C., responded to the announcement today by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy that Dearborn Police Officer James Wade will not be charged in the Jan. 27, 2016 death of Janet Wilson, who was shot multiple times while unarmed in her car near Fairlane Mall.
“Today marks another dark day in the criminal justice system. Janet Wilson’s family is deeply disappointed in the prosecutor’s decision and disagrees with her analysis of the evidence, notably the discrediting of valid eyewitness testimony,” Colella said. “Janet Wilson did not pose a threat of harm to Dearborn Police or Fairlane Mall security. The Michigan State Police thoroughly investigated this case and, fully aware of the elements that must be established to obtain a conviction, verbally told me months ago that they recommended charges be filed against the officer.”
On Aug. 4, 2016, Colella filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against the City of Dearborn and Officer Wade on behalf of Wilson’s family. On Jan. 4, 2017, the stay of proceedings in the civil case will be lifted; Colella says the family has full faith the civil system will bring justice and that a jury will hold Officer Wade liable for the death of Janet Wilson. At the same time, the family believes the City of Dearborn’s hiring, training, supervision and deadly force policies will be found inadequate and unconstitutional.
“Prosecutor Worthy’s decision not to charge is another example of how the criminal justice system is ill-equipped to deal with fatal police shootings and rogue police officers who use excessive force against citizens,” Colella said.
Colella, who is joined by criminal defense attorney Neil Rockind as co-counsel on the Wilson civil case, said both attorneys are prepared to engage in lengthy and exhaustive discovery of the matter to expose the uncontroverted facts that led to the tragic death of their client. Rockind affirms Colella’s frustration with the criminal justice system as it applies to police officers.
“The Rodney King incident and recent South Carolina police shooting case, both captured on video, are prime examples of how the criminal justice system is incapable of bringing officers to justice,” Rockind said. “Since 2006, nearly 10,000 people have lost their lives to deadly force, with only 54 prosecutions nationwide. The criminal justice system has failed to police these police officers.”
Both Rockind and Colella not only disagree with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s decision not to charge, but are also disappointed by the fact that Prosecutor Worthy issued a summary of facts and law via a press release in an attempt to justify her decision as well as the officer’s actions.
“The officer that fired into Wilson’s car did so while backing away from her vehicle and fired multiple times into the front windshield AND side passenger window,” Rockind said. “Were the shooter not wearing a uniform, he’d be charged. This is particularly true where the officer involved has a documented history of excessive force and inappropriate behavior, as Wade does.”
Colella added that the aforementioned are just some of the facts not included in the press release issued by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, noting that the civil case will have fewer legal barriers to justice.
“The criminal justice system has obstacles that protected the officer involved in this case,” Colella said. “The federal legal process, where this case is headed now, does not. Justice for Janet will be obtained with or without the help of the State of Michigan or Wayne County.”
About Moss & Colella
Established in 1997, Moss & Colella represents the victims of personal injury, civil rights violations, discrimination and wrongful death. The firm is recognized as a leader in complex tort litigation, including excess and deadly force, jail death, sexual abuse and harassment, auto and truck accidents, and other serious injury and wrongful death claims. To learn more about the firm and its diverse areas of practice, visit the Moss & Colella website.