Black man files $2.35 million lawsuit against white Virginia cop who shot him in the back

Deontrace Ward is accusing Jeremy Durocher of gross negligence and battery in the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Portsmouth Circuit Court.

Crime scene
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Deontrace Ward on Tuesday filed a $2.35 million lawsuit against Portsmouth Police Officer Jeremy Durocher in Portsmouth Circuit Court, accusing him of gross negligence and battery, according to local CBS affiliate WTKR.

The incident occurred on October 29, 2017, when rookie cop Durocher, who was in plain clothes, responded to a burglary report. The scene was captured on the officer’s body camera, although it is unclear as to why he had it on despite being out of uniform.

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Durocher says he saw Ward running away from the scene and opened fire. His first shots missed the 19-year-old but the third hit him square in the back, the report said.

“As [Ward] hopped over a fence, [Durocher] steadied himself and as if hunting wild game, took careful aim at [Ward] and fired two more shots at [Ward] as [Ward] continued to run away,” the lawsuit says.

Ward was hit by at least two bullets, ultimately suffering “serious and debilitating” injuries, his lawyer S.W. Dawson said.

Durocher claimed he opened fire because he saw a gun in the man’s hands, the report says. However, Ward denied ever pulling the weapon which was later found in his right pant leg. Durocher’s body camera also shows that Ward did not point a gun.

According to the suit, to add insult to injury, the plain clothes officer never identified himself as law enforcement and also failed to order Ward to drop the weapon he allegedly pulled, highlighting his inexperience, the report notes.

The documents accuse Durocher of acting as “judge, jury and nearly executioner” instead of following standard procedure.

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In response to the lawsuit Durocher’s attorney Nicholas Renninger told WTKR that this was all just an attempt to “sensationalize this event.”

“Office Durcoher acted reasonably under the circumstances to apprehend Ward, who was a fleeing felon and posed a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others,” he said.