Mother of man shot and killed by an off-duty Cleveland police officer files wrongful death lawsuit

CLEVELAND - The mother of a man who was shot and killed in downtown Cleveland by an off-duty Cleveland police officer filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas Friday morning.

The lawsuit says Cleveland patrol officer Roger Jones used excessive and unreasonable force when he shot Kenneth C. Smith, 20, in the head after physically removing him from a vehicle on East 9th St. and Prospect Ave. on March 10, 2012.

The lawsuit says Smith's mother, Shauna Smith, suffered "great losses" and "emotional distress" as a result of the "wrongful death" of her son. She is asking for damages in an amount to be determined by the court.

"What we've seen so far is this was almost like an execution and then it was covered up because witnesses were told to get out of there -- there has to be some accountability," said Terry Gilbert, Shauna Smith's attorney.

According to Cleveland Police Sgt. Sammy Morris, Jones saw a fight in the parking lot of Wilbert's Bar on Bolivar Avenue. The officer said he saw someone fire a handgun from a gold Saturn and flee the scene. Jones followed on foot after calling police.

Morris said on-duty police officers arrived, stopped the car and ordered the three men inside to get out of the car. Morris said Smith did not comply with the order.

The lawsuit says Jones physically removed Smith from the car and then shot him in the head, in spite of Smith's attempts to surrender to police.

Morris said Jones saw Smith reach for a gun. The lawsuit said Smith was unarmed.

The city of Cleveland is not commenting on the lawsuit. A spokesperson sent us this statement:

"The use of deadly force was investigated by the Division's Use of Deadly Force Investigation Team and the results of that investigation were forwarded to the City Prosecutor's Office for review. After review by the Prosecutor's Office the Division will conduct an administrative review. Roger Jones is currently assigned to regular duty at the 3rd District."  - Maureen Harper, Chief of Communications, Office of the Mayor

Read the court filing here:

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