LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A homeless Kentucky man’s shooting death during an encounter with police in an abandoned house on a winter night has prompted a federal lawsuit seeking $18 million in damages.
Three officers responding to a burglary call charged upstairs and William Allen Young Jr. was shot multiple times “without any provocation or justification,” according to the suit filed Tuesday by Young’s mother, Reinella Kirilova. The suit portrayed the officers as out of control, saying the shots were fired within a second or two of the encounter.
“The defendant police officers were well familiar with the issue of homeless individuals squatting in the abandoned house,” the suit said. “In fact, moments before they fired their weapons they indicated they were familiar with the sad plight of William Allen Young Jr.”
Young, in his early 30s, struggled with mental illness and addiction and often was found living in abandoned homes, the suit said. He was shot as many as a dozen times, it said.
Young’s sister told media after his death that her brother “just wanted a warm place to stay.”
The suit seeks $9 million in punitive damages from Louisville Metro Government and $3 million from each of the three officers — Russell Braun, Randall Richardson and Paige Young.
Louisville Metro police spokeswoman Alicia Smiley said Tuesday that the department doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
In the days after the February 2017 shooting, Louisville police Chief Steve Conrad said Young charged at the officers while holding a skewer-like item. Young struck one of the officers with the skewer, and the officer shot himself in the hand as he fell, the chief said.
Body camera footage appears to indicate more than 10 shots were fired within four seconds, first ringing out as Young started to approach an officer, The Courier-Journal reported.
Young was white, as are the officers, police said.
The lawsuit said Young had likely been sleeping when the officers encountered him shortly before midnight. The officers knew that Young posed no threat, it said.
“In truth, the defendants were well aware that Young was simply a homeless, harmless person,” the suit said.
The suit, which requests a jury trial, also claims that the officers were “indifferent” to Young’s medical needs after the shooting, handcuffing him as he was dying.