In light of the discord in Ferguson, there was intriguing news out of New York City as relatives of Leonel Disla, an Hispanic teen shot dead by a white New York police officer, won a lawsuit Tuesday against the offending officer.
A day after the Missouri grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown, a jury in Bronx Supreme Court unanimously decided that the city of New York and NYPD were at fault in Disla’s death in 2005.
According to the family’s attorney, Ilaan Maazel, the Bronx court will meet with a new jury in January to decide how much the Disla family will receive in damages.
Maazel noted strong parallels between Brown’s case and Disla’s.
“In both cases there was no special prosecutor investigating the police, and I think that’s a problem,” Maazel said via Reuters. “Police have a hard job but it’s so important that when a police officer violates the law that he’s held accountable.”
Ferguson police confirmed that Brown was unarmed during the incident but said that he tried to reach for Wilson’s gun. In Disla’s case New York police said he waved a 7-inch knife blade at officers trying to break up a fight. The police’s claim was later tried at the civil trial, according to Reuters.
After Disla died in the hospital due to a fatal shot to the abdomen, no criminal charges were filed. Just like Wilson, Barnett was a veteran officer who claimed to have shot the 19-year-old man because he feared for his life and safety.
With no criminal charges filed against the officer, Disla’s mother Candida pressed forward with a civil suit.
“The family has waited a very long time to get some justice in this case,” Maazel said.
Law experts believe that the winning of this suit could set the stage for a similar resolution should Michael Brown’s parents decide to go the same route.