The parents and brother of Jamiel Shaw, the Los Angeles High School football player allegedly shot dead by an illegal immigrant and purported gang member, are suing Los Angeles County. The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, charges the L.A. County Sheriff's Department with negligence and violation of civil rights and immigration laws because of the department's release of Pedro Espinoza. Espinoza, who is charged in Shaw's killing, had been let out of jail one day before the March, 2008 shooting. The County, Sheriff Lee Baca and Espinoza are named as defendants in the wrongful death suit.
Although the murder case had settled into recent obscurity, last year it ignited a storm of controversy, mixing volatile emotions over immigration, charges that Shaw was targeted because he was black, and accusations that Special Rule 40 -- which precludes police from evaluating a suspect's immigration status when considering arrest -- was a danger to public safety. The LAPD and LASD have operated under the rule since 1979. Last December an attempt to bar its use by placing a measure on the ballot known as Jamiel's Law, failed to qualify for lack of signatures. Espinoza has yet to come to trial -- his arraignment has most recently been postponed to June 30.