YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The family of a man who was shot and killed by Struthers police has filed a lawsuit in federal court.
The estate of James Sheets filed the wrongful death lawsuit Monday in the Northern District Court of Ohio in Youngstown.
The lawsuit names the city, the police department, a detective, a captain, the police chief and John or Jane Doe to be any employee who may have participated in the supervision, training and hiring of a patrolman who shot Sheets.
The lawsuit was filed in connection to the April 1, 2022, shooting death of Sheets on the West Side of Youngstown following a police chase that ended when Sheets’ car was rammed by officers in a maneuver to stop him.
The lawsuit claims that Sheets was fired upon by a patrolman and that while a gun was found in Sheets’ car, he did not brandish it prior to his shooting death, the complaint stated.
The lawsuit claims that the patrolman was hired despite having an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation qualifier of “Approach with Caution,” and that the city failed to train him properly. It says the patrolman had previously discharged his service weapon at another suspect who was trying to get away from police in a vehicle, causing injury.
The complaint alleges that the Struthers Police Department ignored, condoned and permitted a pattern of excessive force and abuse by its police force and that the patrolman has not been disciplined but has been promoted to detective, according to the filing.
The lawsuit is seeking damages in excess of $75,000 including court costs, attorney fees, compensatory damages and punitive damages to be determined at trial.
A Mahoning County grand jury determined that there was no criminal wrongdoing by the officers involved in the shooting, and no criminal charges were brought.
At the time, authorities said Sheets raised a gun and officers opened fire.
The case was investigated by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.