Investigative materials gathered by the law firm of Moss & Colella paint a very different picture of the fatal shooting of Gray on Nov. 4 than that presented by the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department; evidence suggests that the St. Clair Shores canine, “Axe” was killed by his own officers
Media contact: Barbara Fornasiero, EAFocus Communications, 248.260.8466; firstname.lastname@example.org
Southfield, Mich. — February 7, 2019 — A. Vince Colella, a civil rights and personal injury attorney with Southfield-based Moss & Colella, P.C., today announced that a $10 million lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the family of Theoddeus Gray against the St. Clair Shores Police, the City of St. Clair Shores and the five police officers involved in Gray’s shooting death on November 4, 2018. St. Clair Shores police said at the time that Gray was shot because he produced a gun and killed a department K-9 police officer, Axe. Since then, the Macomb County Sheriff’s office has presented investigation materials pursuant to a FOIA request by the law firm that suggest Axe was killed by his own officers. The family’s lawsuit also alleges that Gray had surrendered to police and was unarmed at the time he suffered the fatal gun shot wound.
The lawsuit comes after the family hired Moss & Colella last November to conduct its own independent investigation into the death of Gray, 29, who was shot six times in a firestorm of 48 rounds fired by the officers. Despite the assurance of a “very serious, complete and thorough investigation, designed to recover all evidence and speak to all witnesses,” there are glaring omissions, Colella said.
“The abbreviated three-week investigation was woefully inadequate to fully investigate the murder of this young man,” Colella said. “Through this lawsuit, it will become clear that investigators failed to collect evidence, obtain witness statements, and in some cases, disregarded critical information, resulting in the officers avoiding criminal responsibility.”
Colella noted several disturbing discrepancies between what he obtained from the Macomb County Sheriffs’ Department and what was presented at its press conference on November 28, 2018.
Colella confirmed that none of the officers directly involved in the shooting gave statements to the Sheriffs’ department. However, at the press conference, the St. Clair Shores Chief of Police said that he planned to “debrief the officers now that the case was concluded, and the officers were cleared of any wrong doing.”
“This makes no sense. These officers are suspects in a homicide case; therefore, they should have been made to either give their statements or formally exercise their 5th amendment right against self-incrimination,” Colella said.
Colella also found it troubling that the results of the necropsy performed on Axe were not fully disclosed or explained to the public.
“It seems highly unlikely that the Chief would not have seen Axe’s necropsy report, as he said. It’s a key piece of forensic evidence in the case, showing that the bullet trajectory makes it impossible for Gray to have killed the dog,” Colella said. “Also perplexing is the fact that the public has never been told of the results of the forensic testing performed on the bullet fragment recovered from Axe’s body.”
Colella said that in the vast majority of fatal shooting cases by police officers, criminal charges are not filed. Thus, families are left with only finding justice through civil lawsuits.
“Litigation will shed light on these and numerous other troubling issues, and the public will know the truth as we show that the killing of Theoddeus Gray was unjustified, unconscionable and in blatant violation of his civil rights,” Colella said.
About Moss & Colella
Established in 1997, Moss & Colella represents the victims of personal injury, civil rights violations, discrimination, medical malpractice 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, motorcycle accidents and other serious injury and wrongful death claims. To learn more about the firm and its diverse areas of practice, visit www.mosscolella.com.