A 21-year-old Black man plans to file a lawsuit against the police department in Phoenix after he was shot and critically wounded by an officer in August.
On Jan. 12, lawyers for Devin Thompson sent a notice of a claim to the city of Phoenix, saying that Thompson suffered “long-term life threatening physical damage to his back, spine, chest, ribs, lungs, and legs” and lost his job as a result of the shooting.
Notices of a claim typically precede the filing of a lawsuit. The claim filed last week indicates that Thompson and his attorneys intend to seek $50 million from the city.
The officer who shot Thompson has not been publicly identified but is referred to in the notice as “Officer Cottrell.”
According to police, on Aug. 1, two Phoenix officers approached Thompson and a friend as they sat on a landscaping wall near a stop sign. Police allege that Thompson brandished a weapon and pointed it at officers as he ran away.
Body camera footage from the incident shows Thompson running with an object in his hand that appears to be a phone. But he also appears to drop a handgun that’s been modified with green tape. Police say the item Thompson dropped was a Glock. Thompson’s attorneys maintain he never pointed the item in his hand at police. In the footage, an officer leaves the police vehicle and shoots Thompson within seconds.
After Thompson was released from the hospital, officers charged him with two counts of prohibited weapons, two counts of disorderly conduct and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
“This is literally happening all over the country,” Sandra Slaton, an attorney representing Thompson, told HuffPost. “Young Black men are being gunned down.”
Phoenix police did not comment on the claim filed against the city. Thompson’s legal team also wrote a letter to the Department of Justice demanding more federal oversight of the city’s police department.
The DOJ has been investigating the Phoenix Police Department since 2021, examining whether the department practiced unconstitutional policing and violated the rights of citizens, particularly homeless citizens, by “seizing and disposing of their belongings in a manner that violates the Constitution,” according to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
City officials and police recently wrote a letter asking the Justice Department to end that investigation.
“Now the city of Phoenix, they just want the DOJ to pack up and go home,” Slaton told HuffPost. “And I mean, are they kidding? They just have a lack of self-awareness.”
Rev. Jarrett Maupin, an activist in Phoenix, also decried the city’s letter.
“The letter was just ridiculous. They basically said, ‘We don’t need you here, we don’t want a consent decree,’” Maupin told HuffPost. “And this could be nothing but further from the truth.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misidentified one of Devin Thompson’s attorneys as Sandra Slaughton. Her name is Sandra Slaton.
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