Family Of Shot Black Teen says Fort Lauderdale Police Shot Unarmed 15 Year Old in the Back


(CBS4 [HERE]) FORT LAUDERDALE The family of a teen that was shot during a struggle with a police officer is pondering whether or not to file a lawsuit against the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.

The family has hired the law firm of Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley to investigate the actions of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. Lawyers held a news conference on Tuesday to discuss a significant case that they are investigating on behalf of Dwuan Crooms and his family.

The 15-year-old boy, who remains in critical condition at the Broward General Medical Center, was shot during a struggle with a Fort Lauderdale police officer Jason Hersh late Friday night following a two county car chase.

"There does not seem to be any evidence that there was any struggle and that there was any necessity for the police officer to us force, deadly force, to shoot Dwuan the way he did," said Darryl Lewis, an attorney for the Crooms family told reporters on Tuesay.

Police say the chase, which led to the shooting, began when an officer spotted a car matching the description of the one that was used in a car dealership robbery on Friday.

Police say officers tried pulling the car over, but it didn’t stop. The chase stretched into Palm Beach County. At Yamato Road, the suspect's car turned around and started going south on I-95.

The chase ended shortly after 11 p.m. near the Cypress Creek Road exit. That's when police say a struggle between Hersh and Crooms began and a shot was fired. Another passenger in the car was subdued with a Taser and taken into custody.

"These two individuals driving the vehicle were brazen enough, they tried to run the officers off the side of the road," said Fort Lauderdale Police Sgt Frank Sousa on Tuesday. "At the end of the violent and excessive pursuit, there was a violent struggle and as a result of the struggle, an officers firearm was discharged."

Police say Officer Hersh shot Crooms in the shoulder area during a struggle, but the family is claiming the 15-year old was shot in the back while lying on the ground.

In an interview with CBS-4's Art Barron on Saturday night, Melissa Sands said friends of her son told her police shot him while he was lying on the ground.

"His friends say he was lying down on the ground and they shot him in the back," said Sands. "He's only 15-years-old. He didn't have no weapon and I still can't imagine why you shoot him."

Melissa Sands spoke to CBS-4's Art Barron by phone on Sunday and reiterated the same beliefs. She also told Barron that she has hired an attorney.

Fort Lauderdale Police denied this accusation during their press conference on Sunday. They also revealed that Croom's was not shot in the back, as previously reported.

"At this point in the investigation, we can confirm that the shot entered through the top of the suspect's shoulder area, not in the back," said Sgt. Sousa.

Dwuan Crooms remains in intensive care at Broward General Medical Center and is hooked to a ventilator.

Officer Hersh was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the an investigation.