The family of a man shot and killed by a Tulsa Police officer during a drug raid is now suing the city. Attorneys for the family claim police violated 27-year-old Deandre Starks' civil rights by using deadly force in March.
Attorneys for Starks' mother and wife filed the lawsuit Thursday at the Tulsa County Courthouse. They hope the suit will uncover what happened for the family, who still doesn't know why police had to shoot the unarmed man.
"They just don't understand why this man was shot in the middle of his back," said Attorney, Stanley Monroe.
In March, Tulsa Police served a search warrant on a home off Young Street. Officers said they were there on a drug raid.
When police went to arrest people inside the home, they were confronted by Starks who, they said, wouldn't comply with officer commands to lie down and show his hands.
Fearing for officers' safety, investigators said Sergeant Mark Wollmershauser was forced to shoot Starks.
The Tulsa County District Attorney's investigation into the shooting determined Starks was unarmed.
District Attorney Tim Harris said Wollmershauser was justified in using deadly force saying,
"These actions presented a scenario where he believed Starks had a gun and he had to use deadly force to protect his own life and possibly the lives of others," Harris said.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Starks' family, said Wollmershauser used excessive force against Starks.
"He was a devoted father, cared a lot about his kids. In fact, he was with his kids probably, not 30 minutes before this happened," Monroe said.
Starks had a history of drug convictions, and the DA's report said Starks had drugs on him during the shooting.
"They've lost a loved one and the circumstances which they understand led to this man's death don't seem to make any sense at all," said Monroe.
Attorneys for Starks' family have interviewed witnesses in the neighborhood and hope they can learn more from the DA's investigation.
"We're just out of the gates, we've got a lot of work to do, a lot of discovery, I'm sure the city will be interested in finding out whatever information we've obtained through our investigation. We'll be happy to share it with them," Monroe said.
Attorneys have also filed a tort claim with the City of Tulsa seeking at least $75,000 in damages.
Attorney who represented Wollmershauser in the DA's investigation, said Wollmershauser is a very experienced officer and he had no other choice but to protect the lives of other officers.