GREENSBORO, N.C. – On Wednesday Civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump announced that the family of Fred Cox will file a civil lawsuit against the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office and the deputy that shot and killed Cox.
Cox was shot and killed by Davidson County deputy Michael Shane Hill last November during a funeral service that was interrupted by gunfire. He was 18-years-old.
Cox was at the Living Water Baptist Church in High Point, North Carolina attending the memorial service of Jonas Thompson, who had recently been killed. Deputy Hill was at the church, in plain clothes, investigating Thompson’s murder.
According to the lawsuit, as a crowd was leaving the funeral service shots rang out from a drive-by shooting. During the chaos, Cox exited the car he was sitting in, ran into the church and held the door open for a mother and her 12-year-old child who were trying to flee from the bullets.
Deputy Hill shot Cox multiple times from behind while he held the door. Cox died at the scene.
“Fred is dead for being a hero while Black,” Ben Crump said at a press conference.
Although an autopsy conducted by the North Carolina Medical Examiner showed that Cox’s death was a homicide, Deputy Hill did not face any criminal charges for Cox’s death. In June, a Guilford County grand jury decided not to indict him for the shooting.
Initially the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI) said Hill reported seeing Cox with a handgun when he shot him.
Cox’s family and their attorneys have disputed that claim, saying he was unarmed.
A lawyer representing the mother and child who Cox helped get to safety said that Cox could not have been holding a gun because he was using one hand to hold the door open and the other to usher them inside the church.
The federal lawsuit alleges that Deputy Hill used “unreasonable and deadly force” on Cox while he was “saving the lives of a mother and her young son.”
Cox’s family is seeking damages on six counts, including the use of excessive force, wrongful death battery and negligence, and the violation of Cox’s Fourth and 14th Amendments.
“I can’t say enough times that Fred should not be dead,” Cox’s mother, Tenicka Shannon, said at the news conference.
“Our family is still in deep grief,” Shannon added while breaking down. “Our sadness is compounded with sheer confusion about how this tragedy possibly could have happened.”