The deaths of unarmed black men by police officers in Ferguson, MO and New York City, have made headlines and sparked dissent across the nation in recent weeks, after grand juries decided not to indict police officers.
While the Ferguson decision following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown led to rioting in Missouri and disturbances in other cities, the choking death of Eric Garner in New York, appears to be the catalyst for a national debate on the issue
“The case of Eric Garner, a New York grandfather who was put in a fatal chokehold by a police officer trying to arrest him for selling cigarettes illegally, has resonated with whites and nonwhites alike,” reported CNN.
These are not just distant problems. My colleague, John Cooper, is represented the families of two black men who were shot dead by police officers in Norfolk.
Today he is quoted in an article in the Virginian-Pilot, pointing to a parallel between Norfolk and what’s going on nationwide.
A video from earlier this year about the death of Joshua Johnson
Joshua Johnson was shot and killed at a Wells Fargo on 21st Street in Ghent in May, 2013. Police said Johnson tried to back his car into an officer. This June, a Norfolk police officer shot and killed David Latham. Although he was armed with a knife, his family said he was retreating into his house when he was shot.
Norfolk’s Commonwealth’s Attorney, Greg Underwood, said the use of fatal force against Johnson was justified while the Latham remains under review.
John Cooper represents both the Latham and Johnson families. He told the Virginian-Pilot that he sees parallels between the local cases and those getting national attention.
“They are symptoms of the national problem…. I think there’s the question of what do we do as a society to try to prevent these tragedies, and if the criminal justice system, as it is set up here and elsewhere, is adequate to the task,” he said in the article.
Norfolk Police Chief Mike Goldsmith declined requests to be interviewed for the Pilot article.
John Cooper also told the Pilot a review board could be an effective way to address the problem in Norfolk.
“It may be one way to have the community feel they are getting their voices heard,” he said. “It would be a way to have someone outside the status quo criminal justice system look at problem cases, he said, “rather than the rubber stamp you have now.”
Norfolk Councilman Andy Protogyrou has suggested creating a citizens’ panel to review allegations of police misconduct as a way to bolster public confidence, the Pilot reported.
John Cooper has in the past been invited to interviews by a number of TV and print media organizations about the Johnson case which has now been settled.
The attorneys at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers have been representing families in wrongful death cases for decades. If you have lost a loved one due to the actions of another person, be it a drunk or reckless driver, the negligence of a company or the actions of a party such as a police officer, call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers for a free consultation at 757.455.0077.