FLORIDA CITY, Fla. – Lawyers for the family of a man killed by a Florida City police officer in May have begun to lay the groundwork for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Juvon Simon, 23, was shot and killed by Detective Frantz Hardy on May 30.
Police said Simon was armed with a handgun and had a high-powered rifle within reach when he was shot, but witnesses said they never saw any weapons, and that Hardy fired through a closed door.
The Florida City Police Department said Hardy and another officer were conducting an investigation in Simon’s apartment complex in the 1400 block of Northwest Second Avenue when the shooting took place. Authorities have released few details about what led up to the shooting.
"He was 13 minutes on the floor until he passed away," Simon's mother, Youseline Pierre, said.
Now Simon’s family is considering a wrongful death suit against the department and the officer.
"We believe out of frustration, (the officer) fired two shots through the door, killing him," said Christopher Marlowe, an attorney with the Haggard Law firm based in Coral Gables. "That would have amounted by now to, at minimum, a manslaughter charge -- perhaps even a murder charge if the person who pulled the trigger were anything other than Officer Frantz Hardy."
In a bill of discovery filed just days ago, lawyers requested Hardy’s personnel and internal affairs files, saying the department had denied them access because of the ongoing investigation.
They also have a lot of questions about surveillance video that would show key parts of the case, but is jumpy and shows parts that appear to have been edited.
"If he wasn't wearing a badge, he would already be in custody," Marlowe said.
A source close to the family said Hardy was allowed to return to the apartment complex after the shooting with a duffel bag.
The Miami-Dade Police Department is handling the investigation because the county's law enforcement agency conducts the Florida City Police Department's police-involved shooting investigations.
"Until these days, I don't even know what happened to him -- how they shoot him," Pierre said.
The family's attorneys are pushing for documents because investigations into police shootings can take years and there is two-year statue of limitations on civil wrongful death cases.
Family members said Simon and Hardy knew each other before the shooting and Hardy would harass Simon.
"He wanted to kill him," Pierre said in May.