The family of a man shot and killed after a traffic stop is seeking more than $7 million from the city of Arlington and the former officer involved.
In May 2019, now former officer Bau Tran with the Arlington Police Department was indicted for criminally negligent homicide following the shooting death of O’Shae Terry on Sept. 1, 2018.
Tran shot Terry after he responded to a call for backup when the officer who made the initial stop smelled marijuana, according to Arlington police.
The federal lawsuit filed Wednesday lists both the city of Arlington and Tran, alleging the city failed to “properly train, supervise, screen, discipline, transfer, counsel or otherwise properly equip and control officers including those who are known, or who should have been known, to engage in the use of excessive force and/or deadly force.”
Days after the shooting, Arlington police released body camera video that showed Terry following officers’ instructions — turning off the car and rolling down the windows. Tran is then heard saying, “If you don’t have anymore inside the vehicle, y’all shouldn’t be worried about it. We just have to do what we have to do. So that’s basically it.”
After Tran finishes speaking, the windows in the car begin to roll back up. Tran grabs hold of the passenger window as Terry slowly starts to drive away.
Tran does not let go of the window, and then shoots into the car, striking Terry.
“O’Shae didn’t deserve to lose his life on that day,” his mother Sherley Woods said. “O’Shae might have done some things as he was a teen, in his early teens, but O’Shae was 24 when this happened. O’Shae started turning his life around. He wanted to be a businessman, start his own business.”
Lee Merritt is one of the attorneys representing Terry’s family in this lawsuit. He said the family is demanding a jury trial.
“He and his friend Terrence Harmon, who’s also a subject in this lawsuit, had just enrolled in community college. They were hoping for a chance to better their lives,” Merritt said. “One study that’s cited in the lawsuit says the city of Arlington is third in all of Texas for police using force against black males. The city of Arlington is not third in size, it’s not third in overall population.”
A spokesperson for the city said they did not have a comment on the matter at this time.
An attorney representing Tran said his client has not entered a plea as of Wednesday regarding the criminal charge. He was also unable to comment on the new lawsuit filed.