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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional
Review / DEVELOPMENTS IN ORANGE, RIVERSIDE, SAN BERNARDINO
AND VENTURA COUNTIES

Tyisha Miller's Parents File Civil Rights Suit

May 19, 1999

RIVERSIDE — Attorneys for the parents of Tyisha Miller filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Tuesday, seeking an unspecified amount of money from the city of Riverside, the four police officers who shot her Dec. 28, and their field supervisor.

The wrongful death lawsuit, announced by attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., terms the shooting "one of the most shameful, vicious, and cruel acts of police brutality in the history" of Riverside and alleges a police "conspiracy to cover it up."

The lawsuit also alleges that the four police officers made racial comments just before the shooting and that racial slurs were uttered by other officers after Miller's death. Riverside County prosecutors recently asked the state attorney general's office to look into allegations about remarks made by police officers after the shooting, but have expressed strong doubts that the four officers who shot Miller ever made racial comments.

Miller, 19, was killed when the four officers, responding to a 911 call about an unconscious woman inside a locked car with a gun on her lap, broke the window to retrieve the weapon. The officers said she moved for the gun, prompting them to open fire.

County prosecutors recently cleared the officers of criminal negligence, but questioned their tactics in responding to the incident.

The officers, who remain on paid administrative leave, are awaiting possible Police Department discipline.

Attorneys for Miller's family previously filed a wrongful death claim against the city, which went unanswered.

Attorney Skip Miller, representing the city of Riverside, said Tuesday, "We plan to defend the case vigorously and let the courts decide the outcome."

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