The family of Latoya James, a 37-year-old Black woman who was fatally shot by Georgia sheriff’s deputies during a drug raid of her cousin’s home, has filed a federal lawsuit against the sheriff and others involved, according to the Associated Press.
The family attorneys have made the argument that the case has many similarities to the death of Breonna Taylor in 2020, including a Black woman being killed by law officers after they forced their way into a home with minimal warning.
Filed Sunday, the civil lawsuit claims that the drug raid violated James’ civil rights. The lawsuit was filed only after the district attorney for Camden County decided not to bring criminal charges against the deputies involved in the death of James in April.
From the Associated Press:
The lawsuit names Camden County Sheriff Jim Proctor as a defendant as well as several deputies who took part in the fatal raid May 4, 2021. Filed on behalf of James’ 9-year-old daughter, the lawsuit seeks at least $25 million in damages. It argues deputies violated James’ rights by forcing entry without giving the home’s occupants time to answer their knock.
James was spending the night at the home of her cousin, Varshan Brown, when deputies with a warrant to search for drugs knocked down the door of the darkened house at about 5 a.m. in Woodbine, located in Georgia’s coastal southeastern corner near the Florida line.
Body cam footage released by the Georgia Burea of Investigation shows deputies announcing themselves and then immediately forcing themselves inside the home. Within seconds, multiple gunshots were fired.
Much of the footage was blocked by a shield that the law officer was using during the drug raid. So the footage does not show who opened fire or James being fatally shot.
The lawsuit claims the bullets hit James in the shoulder and back as her cousin, Brown, and deputies were trading shots at each other. Brown was wounded, but attorneys for the family are claiming he opened fire unaware that it was law officers that were entering his home, according to the Associated Press.