Attorneys Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci Announce Civil Lawsuit for Death of Fred Cox
Nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump and co-counsel Antonio Romanucci, Bhavani Raveendran, Ashley Mills and Lyndsey McPherson today filed a civil lawsuit against the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Michael Shane Hill and others on behalf of the family of Fred Cox. The lawsuit describes how Hill shot and killed the Black teenager at the Living Water Baptist Church in High Point on November 8, 2020.
The federal lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. The plaintiff is Tenicka S. Shannon, Fred’s mother, who is also the administrator of his estate. In addition to defendants Hill and the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, the suit also names defendant Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America, which is the surety for the Sheriff’s Bond.
Shortly before his death, Fred had attended a funeral at the church and was sitting in his car outside the church when shots rang out from a drive-by shooting. In the chaos, the 18-year-old left his car to run into the church, holding the door open for a mother and child to reach safety. As Fred held the door, Deputy Hill, who was on duty but in plainclothes, shot Fred multiple times from behind. Fred died at the scene of multiple gunshot wounds.
The complaint has six counts including the use of excessive force by the deputy, a 42 U.S.C. §1983 Monell claim of patterns and practices in the Sheriff’s office that violate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of civilians, wrongful death battery and negligence, and survival battery and negligence, meaning the deputy caused malicious and needless bodily harm and reasonable care was not taken to prevent those injuries.
The complaint is seeking compensatory, punitive and special damages and costs as defined under federal law in an amount to be determined by a jury.
Separately, a Grand Jury was convened but did not indict the officer in this tragic case.
“The killing of Fred Cox is so upsetting, America, because he died ‘being a hero while Black,’ plain and simple. For so long, we have seen marginalized people stopped and injured by police for driving while Black, riding a bicycle while Black or walking down the street while Black. But this young man was shot in the back by an officer while trying to save lives in a very dangerous situation. How does this possibly make sense, and what must we do to stop these tragedies in North Carolina and across the country,” said Attorney Ben Crump, Ben Crump Law.
“How many times must we fight for justice for someone who was killed by a police officer acting as a warrior and not a guardian? That is one of the very fundamental things wrong with policing in America today and exactly why we need commonsense police reform in this country to hold officers and municipalities accountable for their actions,” said Antonio Romanucci, Romanucci & Blandin.
"Our investigation thus far has shown a troubling increase in fatal shootings since Davidson County Sheriff Richie Simmons was elected. Additionally, in the Cox case and in another matter, the first official reports stated that the victims were armed and threatened deputies, which was patently false. These false narratives are yet another example of why there is such distrust between marginalized communities and law enforcement,” said co-counsel Bhavani Raveendran, Romanucci & Blandin.
"Unfortunately, the killing of Fred Cox is not an isolated incident, and this is something we have seen far too often in Davidson County. Under Sheriff Simmons we have seen clearly the pattern, practice and custom of using excessive and deadly force in situations where less-than-lethal force would be appropriate. If Deputy Hill had been a reasonable officer, Fred would still be alive,” said co-counsel, Ashley Mills, McPherson & Mills.
"I can’t say enough times that Fred should not be dead. It’s been nine months now and our family is still deep in grief. We will keep fighting for justice in his name as long as it takes. We miss him so badly, but our sadness is compounded with sheer confusion about how this tragedy possibly could have happened,” said Tenicka Shannon, Fred’s mother.
About Ben Crump Law
Nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump and his national network of specialized attorneys have spearheaded a legal movement to better protect the rights of marginalized citizens. He has led landscape-changing civil rights cases and represented clients in a wide range of areas including civil rights, personal injury, labor and employment, class actions, and more. Ben Crump Law is dedicated to holding the powerful accountable. For more, visit BenCrump.com or call (800) 935-8111.
About Romanucci & Blandin, LLC
Romanucci & Blandin is a Chicago-based national trial practice committed to fighting for victims of negligence, abuse and wrongful death arising from police misconduct, corporate negligence, civil rights actions, medical malpractice, mass torts and class actions. Founded in 1998, the firm is widely recognized for representing plaintiffs in numerous practice areas including: workers’ compensation, pharmaceuticals, civil rights, police misconduct, excessive force, aviation, product liability and premises liability. For more information, please visit www.rblaw.net or call (312) 458-1000.
About McPherson & Mills, PLLC
Attorneys Lyndsey McPherson and Ashley Mills make up McPherson & Mills, a boutique law firm based in High Point, North Carolina. They are dedicated to zealously advocating for their clients in an array of areas including wrongful death, personal injury, mass torts, civil rights cases, and many more. McPherson & Mills is committed to serving their clients and their community in seeking justice and reform. For more information, please call (336) 887-8111.
About Pintas & Mullins
Pintas & Mullins is a national law firm, headquartered in Chicago, which has fought for the rights of the seriously injured for more than 35 years. Its practice areas include representation for the victims of environmental injustice, nursing home abuse of seniors, medical malpractice, dangerous products and drugs, and more. Through its close association with Ben Crump law, Pintas & Mullins is a passionate advocate for those without a voice against powerful interests and bad-acting corporations. For more information please visit www.pintas.com or call (800) 935-8111.