GARY, In. — The family of a man shot and killed by a Gary police officer is determined to get answers, and has filed a federal lawsuit.
The wrongful death suit filed Monday on behalf of 25-year-old Rashad Cunningham’s mother says Officer Isiah Price shot Cunningham as he sat in a vehicle outside his Gary home around 3 a.m. on Aug. 17. The lawsuit identifies the officer as Isaiah Price, who is black.
The suit says Price began shooting seconds after exiting his car and while Cunningham was holding his wallet and driver’s license.
Cunningham’s mother, Tonia Simmons, spoke at a news conference Tuesday and said she was determined to get answers about what happened the night her son was shot.
Gary police told the family they were conducting a traffic stop at the time and that Cunningham had a gun on his lap, prompting the shooting. However, the Cunningham’s family questions that saying he was a passenger, in a parked car, in front of his own home and say he had a concealed carry license and FOID card.
“This case is very simple. Do African American men have the same Second Amendment right that every other American enjoys in this country?” Ivan Simmons, Cunningham’s uncle, said.
The lawsuit also claims after the shooting, a second unidentified officer ordered another man who was in the car with Cunningham to get on the ground, stepped on his head and put a gun to his head and threatened him by saying, “Shut the f–k up. I should’ve shot you in your f—ing head, too.”
“Without just cause or provocation the officer fired and killed him, the use of force was excessive and it was unreasonable,” Attorney Greg Kulis, said. “This is an officer that has a history, this is an officer who should know how proceed as an officer and went to use excess force.”
A city spokeswoman declined comment Monday. There’s no public listing for Price. A city of Gary statement after the shooting said police don’t use body cameras or dashcams. It promised a thorough investigation.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Department is conducting an independent investigation into the shooting.