NORFOLK, Va. (CN) – The family of a Virginia woman who was shot and killed by police in 2016 while brandishing a toy gun sued the city and the officers for $16 million claiming more should have been done to resolve the confrontation peacefully.
In a lawsuit filed in Norfolk City Circuit Court on March 16, McKenley Beaty Sr., claims his daughter India was killed for no reason by the defendant officers Brandon Goins and Payton Wosk.
According to accounts published in the immediate aftermath of India Beaty’s death, Norfolk police were staking out a strip mall parking lot in the early morning hours of March 19, 2016, when they saw her arguing with an unidentified man.
Beaty was not the subject of the police investigation, but the officers said when it appeared that she had pulled a gun on the man she was arguing with, they immediately responded.
According to a statement released by the Norfolk Police Department, the officers identified themselves as police and gave Beaty verbal commands to drop the gun.
The officers said Beaty responded by making “a threatening motion” with the gun, and they fired at her, killing her almost instantly.
It was only after Beaty died that they realized the “gun” she had was a non-firing replica.
“Any loss of life is tragic,” Norfolk police Chief Michael Goldsmith said in a statement. “My thoughts and prayers go out to Ms. Beaty’s loved ones, and we appreciate the public’s patience as we continue to investigate.”
Both officers were subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing by the Commonwealth Attorney’s office.
Beaty’s family says the officers were negligent in their dealing with India Beaty on the night of her death, and showed indifference in their use of deadly force.
Not only did the officers fail to follow the department’s operational general orders, the family says, they failed to give Beaty “a reasonable opportunity to peaceably surrender … failed to de-escalate the situation … [and] used excessive force when … the most extreme life threatening circumstances did not exist.”
Representatives of the parties could not immediately be reached for comment.