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New Bedford Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Police for Teenager’s Shooting

The family of Malcolm Gracia is suing the city of New Bedford and its police department for Massachusetts wrongful death. The family claims that the 15-year-old was wrongfully detained in 2012 and he was shot without justification. They believe he was a victim of racial profiling.

Detectives detained the teenager after a police sergeant witnessed him on a video feed making what appeared to be a gang handshake. The family’s lawyer claims that the defendants targeted Garcia because of his socioeconomic and racial profile even though he wasn’t caught committing any crime.

Gracia tried to run from the police. However, as Detectives Tyson Barnes approached him, Gracia stabbed the officer three times. Another detective, Paul Fonseca, fired his Taser at the teen, who went down but refused to drop his knife. That was when Gracia was shot multiple times.

Two months after the tragic incident, the DA’s office said that the shooting was justified because Gracia stabbing Barnes multiple times. New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell declared the incident an act of self-defense. Gracia’s family, however, wants to know why the teenager was shot in the back and on the side of the face if he had been supposedly approaching the police officers.

Other defendants include Police Chief David A. Provencher and members of the New Bedford Police Gang Unit, including unit head Bryan Safioleas, Barnes, Fonseca, and detectives David Brown and Trevor Sylvia. The New Bedford, MA wrongful death case is alleging negligence, inadequate supervision and training of police officers, wrongful taking of a life, gross negligence, conscious pain and suffering, recklessness, and wanton and willful police conduct. The family is seeking unspecified monetary damages.

Even if police officers have not been criminally charged with excessive use of force, victims and their families can still pursue damages for Boston wrongful death or personal injury in civil court. Unfortunately, every year there are civilians, detainees, and prisoners who are hurt because police offers deliberately or unintentionally used more force than a situation warranted.

In the last ten years the city of Boston alone has spent over $36 million to settle some 2,000 legal claims and lawsuits. The majority of the Massachusetts cases allege police misconduct.

New Bedford Family Files Wrongful Death Suit Against Police, My Fox Boston, May 19, 2015

Read the Police Report (PDF)

More Blog Posts:
Woman Files Massachusetts Injury Case After Police Officer Accidentally Shoots Her in the Face, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, May 16, 2015

Family Files Massachusetts Wrongful Death Case, Sues State Police Over Fatal Shooting of New Bedford Man, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, April 21, 2015