The family of a 22-year-old Michael Tristian Paone who died during an officer-involved shooting outside an apartment building in the Conshohocken section of Plymouth Township on August 3, 2021, has filed a federal wrongful death and survival suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The suit, which was filed on June 3rd, is against Plymouth Township and 10 Plymouth Township police officers identified as “John Does 1-10.”
What are “wrongful death” and “survival” suits? From AllLaw.com:
In a nutshell, the wrongful death laws allow the estate to be awarded damages for the beneficiaries of the deceased (i.e., those who suffered, mostly financially, due to the deceased’s death). The survival laws allow the estate to be awarded damages that the decedent could have recovered if he/she had not died (i.e., pain and suffering and lost earnings).
The Pennsylvania Record published an article on the suit and it can be found here. The article outlines the accusations within the suit which are that the police did not assess Paone’s mental health condition and did not render appropriate aid once he was shot. From the article:
Prior to using lethal force, the suit says the officers did not attempt to assess decedent’s medical condition or mental or psychological state, even though they had been informed, or should have been informed by 911 dispatch, that the decedent was “in the midst of a mental health crisis, had a history of mental illness, and had no weapons.”
The suit further notes that the officers made no effort to stanche the bleeding caused by the gunshot wounds until 11:24 p.m., when one police officer applied a field tourniquet to decedent’s right thigh, where two bullets had entered. For the eight minutes prior to that, the suit states, the decedent lay on the ground bleeding from gunshot wounds to his right chest, his left chest, his right buttock, his abdomen, his left thigh, his right hand and his left arm.
One month after the incident, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele released the results of an independent review of the shooting that determined that the shooting was a lawful use of force.
In the first paragraph quoted above from the Pennsylvania Record article, it mentions that Paone did not have a weapon. According to the county’s independent review, Paone had a “loaded black Crossman Vigilante C02 Air Pistol, a .357 double action, semi-auto revolver, with a six steel-rifled barrel.” This type of gun fires pellets.
If you read the article from the Pennsylvania Record and MoreThanTheCurve.com’s article on the independent review, you will see that the family and the police differ in regards to the sequence of events that led to the shooting. In the lawsuit, it is stated that Paone dropped the gun as commanded. The review found that he had pointed it at a police officer.
The lawsuit argues that Paone became confused once he dropped the gun and had flashlights shined on him. In his confusion, the lawsuit claimed he walked toward the gun and bent down over it.
The review found that he fell to the ground once shot, continued to ignore commands from police to drop the weapon, and extended his arm with the gun towards officers a second time. This according to the review led to him being shot again.
We will continue to follow this story and publish a follow-up as appropriate.