A Black Indiana family has filed a civil rights lawsuit after a 25-year-old registered gun owner was shot and killed on August 17 in front of his own home.
Rashad Cunningham had his gun in his lap and had just received a ride home when a Gary cop identified in the lawsuit as Isaiah Price III, who’s also Black, flashed his lights at the car and later opened fire, the man driving Cunningham that day told ABC affiliate WLS.
The Gary Police Department has said that its officers were responding to a 911 call about shots fired in the area of 23rd Avenue at around 3 a.m. when they encountered the men in a parked car at East 23rd Avenue and Kentucky Street.
David Nusz, the friend who was driving Cunningham, told local TV station WLS, “Cop drives down the street, shines his light on us. We ask why he’s doing that. This is his house. The cops asked us for IDs. I was getting mine out.”
As Price walked up to the car, he must have seen the gun on Cunningham’s lap, “which he had a permit for,” Nusz said.
“He wasn’t reaching for it or nothing,” he added. “The cop opened fire. Cop said ‘gun,’ fired five or six times.”
Tonya Simmons, Rashad Cunningham’s mother, gathered with other relatives on the steps of Gary City Hall Tuesday to demand answers from police about why the officer killed her son.
She said he was “shot down in cold blood sitting in front of his home,” according to WLS.
Heather Fox, Cunningham’s girlfriend and the mother of his youngest child, told reporters she was with him hours before he died.
“We were at the club together last night, dancing and everything was fine,” Fox said. “He walked me to the car. Told me he loved me. I told him call me when you get home, he never called me.”
She also described the kind of man he was to Fox 32.
“He has five kids. A mother that loved him dearly. A father that loved him dearly,” Fox said. “All Rashad wanted to do was take care of his family and get out of Gary, Indiana.”
Although WLS reported that authorities have not confirmed whether Cunningham has a valid conceal carry permit, Fox said she’s seen him pull out his permit on more than one occasion.
He doesn’t have a felony criminal record, WLS reported.
“Every time we get pulled over he informs the police that he has a gun in the car. He never reaches for it. Asks them permission to give them the gun, shows them his gun permit,” Fox said. “He never has a problem with that. They never gave him a chance to show the permit, they just shot him.”
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident, according to WLS.
The sheriff’s office and Gary police have not yet responded to Atlanta Black Star’s request for comment.
An official with the sheriff’s office told Fox 32 “the Department has submitted findings of its investigation to the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office.”
“No further information will be released at this time,” the official said.