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$11.5 Million Jury Award to Family of Man Wrongfully Killed by Cop

In March 2011, a Prince George’s County jury awarded $11.5 million in damages to the widow and child of a man who was shot to death by a police officer.

In August 2008, while moonlighting as a security guard, police officer Steven Jackson saw several men outside a Langley Park apartment building, Even though some of the men were drinking beer, none was suspected of an alcohol violation, loitering or any other criminal misconduct. Nonetheless, Jackson followed the men inside the building where, in the basement, he fatally shot one of them, Manuel de Jesus Espina, in the torso.

According to Jackson, Espina swung at him and violently resisted as he tried to search him for weapons. Jackson testified that he took out his gun only after a “mob” of four or five men mysteriously appeared in the basement and began menacing him. When Espina reached for his gun, Jackson said, he shot him. He could not explain, however, where the “mob” had come from or how it left the building.

Suspiciously, Jackson never told police investigators about any “mob.” No one specifically asked him, he explained.

Witnesses told a dramatically different story. According to them, Jackson pepper-sprayed an unresisting Espina and beat him down the stairs with his fists and metal police baton before shooting him.

The jury evidently did not believe Jackson’s version of events. It found that he acted with malice, not in self-defense, and had violated Espina’s constitutional rights. The jurors awarded $11.5 million in compensatory damages to Espina’s widow, Estelan Concepcion Espina-Jacome, and his son, Manuel de Jesus Espina-Jacome. No punitive damages were awarded. See: Espina-Jacome v. Jackson, Prince George’s County Circuit Court (MD), Case No. CAL09-23501.

Source: Washington Post

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Related legal case

Espina-Jacome v. Jackson