A federal judge recently decided that a $10 million dollar lawsuit against the Lansing Police Department can proceed.
The judge’s decision comes after officers were cleared for killing a young girl as she was hiding from them, resting on her knees repeating “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
In 2011, 17-year-old Derrinesha Clay broke into a local Bank of America branch and ended up hiding in one of the offices inside the building. It has been said that the teenager was going through some hard times.
Family members said that the teenager was going through some trouble and was possibly dealing with issues relating to bipolar disorder.
It is assumed by police that she was attempting to rob the bank, but no one will ever know why she actually entered the building because she was shot and killed as soon as she was found.
Brian Rendon, the officer responsible for firing the shots, claimed that the girl attacked him with a knife or a pair of scissors, and that he shot her in self-defense. However, security camera footage does not show the girl attacking the officers or being aggressive in any way, the footage simply shows her hiding, crouching down on the ground on her knees.
To make matters even more suspicious, Clay was first shot in the stomach before Rendon fired the fatal gunshot to her head. Additionally, all of the officers on the scene have conflicting reports as to whether Clay was resisting after she was shot the first time.
Rendon was eventually cleared by an internal affairs investigation, but Clay’s mother filed a lawsuit against the police and the county in 2013.
The evidence, according to U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell, shows that the officers were possibly lying about the incident, and that Rendon likely used excessive force on the teenager.
“Rendon’s shot to Ms. Clay’s head was unreasonable because she was on her knees, she had already been shot in the stomach, and she was no longer resisting,” Bell said in court.
The police department is still defending the actions of the officer, saying that Rendon’s actions were justified.
“This incident was an unfortunate tragedy for everyone involved. Nonetheless, we strenuously disagree with Judge Bell’s ruling and stand by the findings of the external MSP investigation and Prosecuting Attorney Stuart Dunnings, both of which concluded that the officer’s actions were justified given the circumstances he faced,” Police Chief Mike Yankowski said in a statement.
It is true that Clay had no business being in the bank uninvited. However, that does not justify the actions of the police officers on the scene when acting as judge, jury and executioner.
The security footage below shows the girl merely hiding from police and not being aggressive in any way: