Family of suspect killed by police to sue Newport News

Kawanza Jamal Beaty

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — The family of a man who was fatally shot by police July 4 announced they plan to sue the city of Newport News. Kawanza Beaty was killed after being shot once in the head by an officer.

Document: Letter of Intent to Sue

“It has been nothing short of hell,” said Beaty’s aunt, Lavonna Lucious.  “I think one of the hardest things that I ever had to do in my life was write an obituary for my 23-year-old nephew.”

Beaty was shot and killed after a foot chase July 4 on 18 Street.  Newport News police say an officer fired after Beaty pointed a sawed-off shotgun at police. He was hit in the head.

“It is clear that the bullet is to the back of the head,” said family attorney James Ellenson.

Document: Medical Examiner’s Report

Beaty’s family and attorney have several questions. They want to know how he was shot in the back of the head.

“The police stated themselves that they that he was running was from them, so we knew without even getting confirmation that his wounds had to be from the back,” Lucious added.

Police tell 10 On Your Side they didn’t find Beaty’s fingerprints or DNA on the shotgun. For that reason, family has asked for a federal investigation. The chief say he would welcome one, but it hasn’t happened.

“It is the chief’s responsibility to see that this is a fair, transparent investigation,” Ellenson said.  “It is not up to me and it’s not up to any of these people to talk about that. It’s up to the chief.”

Ellenson says lawsuit alleges reason of malice, murder, and/or negligence of the city and its officers.

Video: Beaty’s family holds press conference on intent to sue

10 On Your Side asked Newport News officials about the lawsuit, but we were told they could not comment on pending litigation.

Family says it has set up several “Stop the Violence” marches during the next couple months. They hope to strengthen ties with police.

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