Girlfriend of Fatally Shot Teen Files Wrongful Death Complaint

Jasmine Rivera recently filed a federal lawsuit in Newark on the basis of wrongful death for the 2011 fatal shooting of her boyfriend and father of her young child, Malik Williams.

The core of the complaint relates back to an incident that occurred on December 10, 2011 when 19-year-old Williams fled a Bergen County police interrogation room where he was held due to a domestic violence charge. The flee resulted in a chase throughout the Garfield neighborhood and ended in a garage on a nearby dead end street.  Once in the garage, Williams barricaded himself and failed to surrender to police.  An investigation reports that when officers opened the door to the garage, Williams abruptly approached them with a hammer and 16-inch saw in his hand.  Police proceeded to open fire, hitting Williams five times.  Williams was later pronounced dead as a result of the gunshot wounds at a Hackensack hospital.

Rivera’s complaint alleges that the Bergen County police “orchestrated temptations” and Williams was unable to resist the alleged temptation so he ran to escape the confines of the police station.  The complaint also states that Williams would not have had an opportunity to escape from the garage, leaving him with nowhere to run and although he had a criminal record, he did not pose harm to the police or public at large.  It also states that Williams was working as a confidential informant for the city department in regard to their drug investigations prior to his death.  The complaint alleges “less intrusive non-life threatening measures could have been taken” by authorities.

The amount Ms. Rivera is seeking for the wrongful death claim is unknown at this time but Williams’ family formerly announced they intended to sue for up to $150 million. The family, however, has not yet filed a complaint.

A wrongful death suit can be brought when a person is killed due to the negligence or wrongful acts of another party, whether it is an individual or a corporation.  The suit is usually brought by the victim’s immediate family such as their spouse, children, or parents.  The party will typically sue to obtain damages to cover expenses that are incurred as a result of the death, such as medical and funeral bills, as well as the loss of financial support the victim provided while alive.  The goal of wrongful death suits is to provide relief for the financial losses suffered by the victim’s dependents.