Mother Sues Officer Over Death of Her Son

(CN) – The mother of a man shot and killed during a 2014 traffic stop is suing the officer involved in the incident, arguing the patrolman had no reason to use deadly force.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in the federal court in Brunswick, Georgia, Lisa Varnadore says she called the police on May 22, 2014, and told them her 34-year-old son, Joshua Marshall Foskey, was driving his pickup truck while impaired.

Officer Brandon Merritt, a canine officer who had a German Shepherd with him in his patrol car, was alerted to the situation and soon saw Foskey driving down a local stretch of the Snipesville Highway.

Varnadore said while her son may have been under the influence of drugs at the time, he was not speeding when Foskey began to pursue him and he readily pulled over when Merritt directed him to do so.

Varnadore says at no time prior to the shooting was Merritt or any officer in any danger, and that the patrolman opened fire without warning.

According to the complaint, the dashcam video captured from the patrol car shows that at the time of the shooting, Foskey could be seen holding what appeared  to be his driver’s license and registration.

“Although the day was sunny, there was nothing that reflected off whatever was in the deceased’s hands,” the complaint continues.

A grand jury later cleared Merritt of any wrongdoing in Foskey’s death having concluded the officer lawfully discharged his weapon and was justified in his conduct.

Merritt has since left the police department.

Varnadore adamantly disagrees with the grand jury’s findings.

“The fatal shooting of the deceased was wrongful, intentional and contrary to the law of the State of Georgia. Defendant Merritt shot the deceased with intent to do him harm,” she says in the complaint.

Varnadore seeks $3 million in damages on claims of wrongful death, bad faith, and the violation of Foskey’s Fourth Amendment rights.

She is represented by Ralph Goldberg of Goldberg & Cuvillier in Tucker, Georgia.

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