Broward sheriff's office sued over fatal shooting of a man with mental illness

By Charmaine Little | Dec 9, 2018

FORT LAUDERDALE — The Broward County Sheriff’s Office was sued in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Fort Lauderdale Division, after an officer allegedly shot an unarmed man suffering from a mental illness.

Andre Pierre, the father of the deceased, Jean Pedro, sued the sheriff's office, officer Steven Briggs and sheriff Scott Israel for the incident, which Pierre said could have been avoided if the precinct was more knowledgeable on how to handle people living with mental illnesses.

Pedro called the police on himself after having a disagreement with a female friend amid a mental health episode, according to the lawsuit, filed on Dec. 4.

Another officer first approached Pedro and got into an altercation before Briggs got out of the police car and came into the home, the lawsuit said.

While the first officer told Briggs to only tase Pedro, Briggs allegedly pulled out his gun. Observers cried that Pedro was unarmed, the lawsuit claimed. Briggs allegedly shot Pedro three times, killing him.

Pierre sued the sheriff's office for deliberate indifference, claiming that the office, via Briggs, had violated Pedro’s rights under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Section 1983 of being free from excessive and unjustifiable deadly force.

“The constitutional deprivations were caused by the BSO’s lack of training and supervision in regard to police officers having the ability to appropriately interact with the mentally ill without causing the deprivation of constitutional rights and the BSO’s continually engaging in policies and practices that perpetuated BSO officers responding to mental health encounters with deadly force,” the lawsuit alleged.

He also sued Briggs for excessive force, violating Section 1983 rights and wrongful death.

Pierre requested compensatory damages for Pedro’s injuries he experienced before his death, attorneys’ fees and other related legal costs, and funeral expenses. He requested a trial by jury.

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