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Man's death sparks multi-million dollar lawsuit against police

At a vigil for her brother, the sister of a Maryland man involved in a fatal shoot out with a Montgomery County police officer told reporters that her family wants to ensure that no other family will experience the pain they're going through. That's why she and her relatives have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Police Department, claiming that the officer who shot her brother exercised excessive force and was not properly trained to use his weapon.

The victim was a 26-year-old college student who was fatally wounded by a 4-and-a-half year police veteran during a confrontation at the City Place Mall in Silver Springs, Maryland. The officer involved in the incident asserts that he shot the victim out of concern for his safety after the man allegedly assaulted a security guard and ignored the officer's commands to drop his weapon.

Yet, the victim's family insists that the officer's actions were rash and uncalled for since there is no evidence that the victim threatened the officer in any way. Their wrongful death lawsuit claims that the officer was not properly trained in how and when to use a handgun, leading him to fire the weapon unnecessarily.

Investigators are examining the Montgomery County Police Department's firearm training program, which requires recruits to attend 160 hours of instruction before graduating from the academy. During this training, officers are told to use the amount of force they consider "reasonable" in order to maintain control of the situation.

According to FBI standards, officers may consider anyone wielding a weapon within 31 feet of their person to be extremely dangerous. The exact distance between the deceased man and the police officer during the shooting remains unavailable.

The Montgomery County Police Department has placed the officer on paid leave while the family's allegations are examined. Currently, the total value of their wrongful death compensation claims stands at $10 million dollars.

Source: Gazette.net, "Family of slain man files $10 million lawsuit against Montgomery County Police." Jeremy Arias, 26 March 2011.

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