Tue | Jan 26, 2021

San Diego police sued for wrongful death of Jamaican

Published:Monday | November 30, 2020 | 12:12 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer

The family of Oral Nunis Sr, a Jamaican man who died in the custody of the Chula Vista police, has sued the San Diego city government and the police department for what they are alleging is his wrongful death at the hands of officers.

The four claims allege violation of Nunis’ civil rights, false imprisonment, assault and battery, and negligence.

While the claims did not specify monetary compensation, they nevertheless asked for the statutory amount of $25,000 on each count.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Nunis’ wife Roxie and daughter Naomi, by attorney Carl Douglas, asked for a jury trial. They also want jurors to determine compensation.

Nunis died on March 13, 2020, while in the custody of five officers of the Chula Vista Police Department after his daughter called 911 to report that her father was having issues after taking medication.

Speaking at a news conference last Tuesday to announce the lawsuit, Nunis said she was still struggling with the loss of her husband.

“He loved playing soccer and cooking with his younger children. It is very hard, especially at this time of the year. My family has been destroyed, and I am asking for answers to the killing of my husband,” she said.

Mrs Nunis noted that while the police chief has expressed sadness at the passing of her husband, the city’s administration, including the mayor, has not reached out to the family.

Naomi Nunis, the family’s eldest daughter, also spoke at the news conference. She questioned why the police killed her father when all they needed to do was heed the family’s request not to restrain him because of his claustrophobia.

“I want justice for my father,” she said, breaking down.

NO GOOD REASON

Naomi Nunis said that had she known that her father would have been killed by the police, she would never have called them in the first place.

Attorney Carl Douglas, who is representing the Nunises in the wrongful-death lawsuit, said that said Mr Nunis was just another black man who has died at the hands of the police for no good reason.

Douglas blasted the police department and the city government for refusing to release the police body camera footage as requested.

He said that an independent autopsy has determined that Mr Nunis had not died from natural causes, but the city is still not releasing their report to the family.

“What are they hiding?” Douglas asked.

The complaint filed by the attorney noted that it was clear to a rational officer that Mr Nunis was suffering from a mental illness crisis. The complaint further stated that Mr Nunis was reportedly acting out of character and trying to injure himself.

The complaint further stated that there was no reason to believe that Mr Nunis was armed, dangerous, or creating a serious threat to anyone’s physical safety.