$30M lawsuit against four Virginia Beach officers moves toward trial

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A judge ruled Tuesday that a civil lawsuit against four police officers in connection with a deadly double shooting will move toward trial.

Gina Best filed the claims of gross negligence and battery in March against the four SWAT officers who opened fire on a murder suspect and indirectly killed her daughter, India Kager.

Kager was caught in the crossfire when police returned fire on Angelo Perry in a 7-Eleven parking lot in Green Run in November 2015, according to police. Her baby in the back seat was unscathed.

“It’s irreversible,” says Best. “They should speak for it. They need to state why they did that, If they saw her, at which point in their plan, at which point in their tool box, the police protocol were they going to protect India’s life?”

City Attorney Christopher Boynton says Perry was a murder and home invasion suspect. He says police had intelligence Perry was about the commit another murder at the time police closed in on them.

Boynton says police cornered Kager’s vehicle, deployed a flash bang grenade and ran towards the car.

“These officers did everything they reasonably could to take down Mr. Perry, the passenger in the vehicle, who was on his way to do a murder,” says Boynton. “What happens? Angelo Perry discharges the first shot. There are multiple witnesses, civilian and police, that all confirm Mr. Perry instead of surrendering out of that vehicle, shot at a SWAT officer.”

Police say they returned 30 rounds.

“It’s unfortunate, but it is entirely Mr. Perry’s responsibility. He put his companion, his driver that day, in harms way,” says Boynton.

Defense attorney Kevin Martingayle believes police used excessive force and failed to follow a reasonable plan to protect innocent bystanders.

“We are going to have experts come in and say this plan was an accident waiting to happen from the moment it was prepared,” says Martingayle. “In our view, this was awful planning that led to an awful outcome.”

Best drove five hours from Maryland for the hearing Tuesday. She thanked the judge for allowing the case to proceed.

“This is not an issue of Angelo Perry. This is an issue of Virginia Beach Police SWAT team launching a paramilitary attack on an innocent woman who was a Navy vet,” she says. “We want justice for India. We do not want her case swept under the rug.”

Boynton says police did their job and he’s eager to defend them. “They were individuals who came to work that day like everyday, put themselves in harms way to protect the citizens of Virginia Beach. they have a story that needs to be told.”

Boynton expects the trial will happen next year.