The family of Fred Cox filed a wrongful lawsuit after a police officer fatally shot the 18-year-old while he was protecting two people from a drive-by shooting at a funeral.
“Fred is dead for being a hero while Black,” Ben Crump, family’s attorney said during a news conference on Wednesday (August 11).
On November 8, 2020, Cox attended the funeral of Jonas Thompson –– who had recently been killed –– in High Point, North Carolina. Gunfire from a drive-by shooting rang out as a crowd left the funeral service, prompting Cox to run into the church from the parking lot to open the door for a mother and her 12-year-old son who were looking for cover inside.
According to BuzzFeedNews, the family’s lawsuit alleges Deputy Michael Shane Hill, a plainclothes officer who was also in attendance at the funeral, per the request of Thompson’s family, shot Cox from behind, killing him at the scene.
An investigation by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation initially said that Hill reported seeing Cox armed with a handgun at the time of the shooting. Cox’s family and the lawyer representing the mother and child Cox helped have refuted those claims, since he was holding the door open with one hand and guiding the woman with the other.
“Fred Cox saved the mother and son’s lives before he fell, making sure they were safe inside the church before he tried to enter,” the lawsuit reads.
Crump accused Hill of shooting at three of the people trying to get inside to safety and said that the 12-year-old’s hand was grazed by a bullet as a result.
Cox’s family is suing the Hill and the Davidson County’s Sheriff’s Office for excessive force, wrongful death, battery, negligence, and violating Cox’s Fourth and 14th Amendment rights.
“I can’t say enough times that Fred should not be dead,” the teen’s mother, Tenicka Shannon, said at the press conference.
“Our family is still in deep grief,” Shannon continued. “Our sadness is compounded with sheer confusion about how this tragedy possibly could have happened.”
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