Wrongful-death suit against Mobile over police shooting could hinge on video

Wrongful-death suit against Mobile over police shooting could hinge on video

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – A wrongful death lawsuit alleging police wrongdoing during a SWAT team operation two years ago details a series of events that expressly contradicts the official story.

According to the plaintiffs’ attorney Christine Hernandez, the key to proving this may lie in the home surveillance footage that the police seized that day.

“It was all caught on video,” she told FOX10 News. “And they refused to give any of it back to the family. And I think that would actually challenge what was said by the officers at that point.”

The federal lawsuit, filed last week, names the city and Lawrence Battiste, who was police chief at the time, and seeks “in excess” of $5 million. It is alleged that before sunrise on February 4, 2021, police arrived at a home on Lakeview Drive East and entered the residence without knocking and identifying themselves. Police were at the home to arrest brothers Treyh and Tyhrie Webster on charges of witness intimidation.

What followed, according to police, was a shootout that resulted in the death of 18-year-old Treyh Webster.

City officials declined to comment, citing a policy on pending litigation. But Battiste, who is now director of public safety, said at the time that police announced their presence before entering.

“The subject continued to fire shots at law enforcement and then the SWAT team engaged the subject who was shooting at them,” he said at the time. “And as a result of the seizure of him, he was, he died at the scene.”

Hernandez disputed this: ‘It’s not accurate. Nobody opened fire on the police.”

According to the civil complaint, the family was on edge because the home was riddled with gunfire on at least two separate occasions. The complaint states that a family member was sleeping on the couch with an AR-15 rifle and pointed it at the arriving officers but did not fire.

When he realized they were officers, he shouted: “12, 12, 12,” to signal to others in the house that it was the police. This is consistent with what Battiste said at the time.

But the official version and the narrative in the civil suit differ. The suit alleges that police assaulted Tyhrie Webster while he was half asleep in his bed. His mother, Georgette Seuns, was shot in the foot. The civil complaint claims the bullet came from the police, but police at the time said Treyh Webster shot his mother by accident.

Hernandez said police took not only the footage from the home surveillance system, but all the equipment. She said it has video and, presumably, audio that could explain what happened. She said the city has refused requests to return the system and the footage and has not provided an explanation for its refusal.

“The fact that they took that hard drive along with the surveillance video and refused to turn it over — draw whatever conclusion you want to draw from that,” she said.

The purpose of the raid was to arrest the Webster brothers on charges that they tried to pressure the victim of a robbery by Treyh Webster to “drop the charges.” Prosecutors eventually asked a judge to dismiss the witness intimidation charge against Tyhre Webster, although he pleaded guilty to an unrelated charge of shooting into an occupied vehicle.

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