Parents Of Teen Fatally Shot Last Year Suing Officer
May 16, 2019, 7:00 PM | Updated: 7:07 pm
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A couple claims the Cottonwood Heights police officer who fatally shot their son in the back a year ago two blocks from their home used excessive force and should be held accountable.
The 19 year old was suspected of robbing two stores at gunpoint and was fleeing from police last May. The parents believe the officer had no reason to kill their son, and their own investigation leads them to believe he was a threat to no one.
“We just can’t be more shocked,” said Tiffany James, sitting with her husband, Aaron, in their lawyer’s office.
They say they’ve been seeking justice for their son, Zane James, ever since he was fatally shot in the back a year ago while running from police.
They’re now suing the officer who pulled the trigger and Cottonwood Heights. They claim in their civil suit that the shooting was unjustified, and truth was covered up.
“It’s been egregious,” said Tiffany James, the teenager’s mother. “The fact of the matter is that we trust our law-enforcement to do what’s right.”
Aaron and Tiffany James talked about a loving son and brother who played hockey and showed promise as a potential collegiate player. His parents say he ended up on a downward spiral after an injury, and addiction to opioids.
May 29th, last year, Zane James robbed two groceries stores with a realistic looking gun, that turned out to be a pellet gun.
As he fled police, James crashed his motorcycle and ran. Officer Casey Davies, on his way in to work, heard about the pursuit, spotted James and fired four shots.
Two of them hit the fleeing teen, one of them paralyzed him. He died three days later at the hospital.
“He was shot and killed in our neighborhood,” said Aaron James.
The officer never gave a statement as he was investigated for the shooting, which is his right. He was cleared of wrongdoing by the District Attorney’s Office.
Aaron and Tiffany James said they tried to talk with the law enforcement and city authorities involved with the case, but said they were stonewalled. They’re upset that Officer Davies didn’t use non-lethal force, such as a taser, and bring their son in for questioning.
“Officer Davies served a death sentence to Zane, wild-west style in our neighborhood,” said Aaron James. “That’s why we’re both sitting here today.”
“What happened to Zane was an egregious violation of his constitutional right to be free — free from unreasonable arrest and from the use of excessive force,” said Robert Sykes, their lawyer.
Officer Davies was not wearing a bodycam because he was on his way to work. Video was captured by the camera of another responding officer after James was shot. Davies no longer works for Cottonwood Heights. The department declined to comment today.