CINCINNATI — The family of a man shot dead by police in Northside nearly a year ago have filed a federal lawsuit against the Cincinnati Police Department, the officers involved and the City of Cincinnati.
Quandavier Hicks, 22, was shot after police responded to reports that he had invaded two neighbors’ home and threatened them. When police arrived to Hicks’ Northside home and Hicks opened the door, officers discovered he was holding a rifle, according to police records. A struggle ensued, resulting in shots fired.
Hicks was declared dead at the scene.
According to the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court Southern District of Ohio on behalf of Hicks’ grandmother, Ruby Hicks, Cincinnati police “created a dangerous situation” and used “excessive force” when they responded to Hicks’ home that night.
This, the suit argues, resulted in a violation of Hicks’ Constitutional rights.
It all started, the lawsuit states, when the two neighbors — a man and a woman — “told police a complicated story in which they alleged that Hicks had been given keys to their home by a Cincinnati Police Officer, and that he had thereafter ‘broken’ into their home.”
The couple confronted Hicks, at which point an argument ensued, according to the suit. The couple alleged to police that Hicks had threatened them during that argument.
In a 911 call released shortly after the incident, the woman is heard saying “he (Hicks) was coming to kill me.”
The suit states Hicks denied the couple's accusations.
The confrontation made Hicks “fearful for his safety,” the lawsuit states, and that, in one of the two initial 911 calls in the incident, the male caller said, “Like, y’all better get him (Hicks) or I’m gonna… it’s gonna be a massacre.”
The suit goes on to allege that, when the three responding officers arrived to Hicks’ home, the layout of his attic apartment made it hard to hear who was knocking at the door, prompting Hicks to approach the door with the rifle in hand.
The suit states the officer knocked “persistently” but did not say anything. “Hicks had no way of knowing who was in the hallway,” according to the suit.
As investigators found at the time, the suit states that the rifle, while equipped with a magazine holding 10 rounds, contained no rounds in the chamber at the time.
As officers attempted to retrieve the weapon from Hicks, another struggle ensued, resulting in the fatal gunshot hitting Hicks’ aortic artery, the suit states.
Shortly after the shooting, then-Cincinnati police chief Jeffrey Blackwell identified the shooting officer as Off. Doris Scott, who is one of three officers named in the suit.
“[Scott and the other officers involved] owed a duty to Hicks not to subject him to danger,” the suit states, arguing that the officers’ actions “created or increased the risk that Hicks would be exposed to an act of violence.”
The suit describes the officers’ actions as “intentionally, recklessly, wantonly, and with deliberate indifference” to Hicks’ constitutional rights.
In a statement issued Wednesday evening, the family's attorney, Rob Linneman, said: “This tragic death of a young man in his own home was entirely avoidable. Q’s family wants to hold the police accountable and hopes to ensure that no other family has to endure the pain of losing a son in this way.”
Outcry against Hicks’ death was almost instantaneous, as a crowd gathered around the scene in just minutes following the shooting. Two people were taken into custody and charged with disorderly conduct during the public’s confrontation with officers.
The shooting would result in multiple protests outside CPD headquarters in West End in the following weeks.
Hicks’ grandmother, Ruby, the plaintiff in the case, said in the days following her Hicks’ death, “They killed my grandson for no reason.
“And I’m going to miss when he tells me, ‘Grandma I love you.’ I will never hear those words again. I will never.”
At the time, Blackwell said Scott’s action “appears to be in policy.”
Blackwell said Hicks had a previous felony conviction and was not legally allowed to own a firearm.
The June 2015 shooting marked the second deadly police shooting in just a few block radius in Northside since 2011. David “Bones” Hebert was shot to death by a Cincinnati police officer after the department said he threatened an officer with a knife during a late night confrontation.
The case will go before U.S. District Court Judge Michael R. Barrett for consideration. The suit is asking for compensatory damages in excess of $25,000, punitive damages, as well as court and attorney fees.
Cincinnati Police Spokesperson Tiffaney Hardy said the city hasn't been served yet but generally doesn't comment on active litigation.