Family of woman killed by police files $10 million lawsuit

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — The family of a Detroit woman who was shot and killed by police after fleeing Fairlane Town Center security in January filed a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit Aug. 4 against the city.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Michigan to U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman by Attorney Vince Colella, said the officer who shot Janet Wilson, 31, has a history of “overly aggressive and inappropriate tactics.”

The lawsuit said Officer James Wade’s history includes a reprimand and six-month suspension as “defensive tactics instructor” for “overly aggressive and inappropriate tactics” during a separate police call at Fairlane Mall in June 2015, and a reprimand for improper use of force at the Dearborn Administrative Center in March 2015.

Wade also was named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Colella said he filed a request for the dispatch audio and police dash camera video but was denied by the city under “materials obtained pursuant to an investigative subpoena” state statute.

Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad directed questions to Dearborn Public Information Director Mary Laundroche. Laundroche did not return phone calls by the time of publication.

According to police reports, Wilson had caused a disturbance on Jan. 27 and fled Fairlane Town Center, 18900 Michigan Ave., when a security officer attempted to talk to her. She then drove off in a black Chevrolet HHR, almost striking the officer’s vehicle.

Police officers responded to the scene and conducted a traffic stop on Hubbard Drive near the Southfield Service Drive.

When the officer exited the vehicle to arrest Wilson, she allegedly attempted to run him over with her vehicle and escape.

Next, the police officer drew his weapon and fired multiple shots at Wilson striking her in the chest and right arm. She was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.

According to the lawsuit Wade is the listed officer who fired the shots. He is still on administrative paid leave while the incident is under investigation.

The Police Department also went through a similar situation a month earlier when Detroit resident Kevin Matthews, 35, was shot and killed by an officer Dec. 23 following a pursuit into Detroit.

Police said Matthews attempted to reach for the officer’s gun during the struggle before he was shot and killed.

He was wanted on a Redford Township probation violation warrant and had escaped from officers earlier that same day after committing a larceny in Dearborn.

Protests were held for the deaths of both Matthews and Wilson outside the police department on Feb. 27.

Friends an families of the victims asked police for answers on the killings and the identification of the officers involved in both situations.

In April, the Dearborn Police Department and U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services Noble Wray held a press conference announcing the department of justice will provide technical assistance at Haddad’s request.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at