The parents of Christian Hall, the 19-year-old fatally shot by Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) in December 2020, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the agency and two prosecutors with the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office last Wednesday.
The suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, accuses PSP officials, Commissioner Robert Evanchick, Monroe County District Attorney David Christine and First Assistant District Attorney Michael Mancuso of protecting the officers that shot Hall by releasing misleading details about the incident. Hall was going through a mental health crisis when he wound up on the bridge at the Route 33 southbound overpass over I-80 in Hamilton Township on Dec. 30, 2020. As seen in an unredacted video, Hall had his hands up in the air for 14 seconds before PSP officers fired seven shots that ultimately killed him. One of Hall’s family’s attorneys, Ben Crump, who also represented George Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’s families, described the teen’s raising of his hands as the “universal sign of surrender.” However, the Monroe District Attorney’s Office deemed the shooting “justified” under the circumstances caused by his actions, which they believe had “created a threat of death or bodily injury.”
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In a statement after the shooting, PSP claimed that Hall pointed the gun — which later turned out to be a toy gun — in their direction, which forced them to open fire. “[Hall] retrieved the firearm and began walking towards the Troopers. At which time, Hall pointed the firearm in the Troopers direction. As a result, Troopers fired striking Hall,” PSP said.
The suit filed on Wednesday alleges that the version of the video released by the agency was “redacted and pixelated” to mislead the viewer into believing that Hall was aiming for the officers. But the unredacted video, which was subpoenaed by Crump’s co-counsel, Devin Jacob, shows that Hall “kept his hands in the air even while bullets were impacting his body.”
The suit claims that the unredacted video is “undisputed evidence” of the PSP and DA’s office attempt to cover up the “unlawfulness of the homicide.” In a statement, the family’s attorneys also noted that PSP tried to force Hall’s parents into entering a confidentiality agreement before releasing the video.
“Just like George Floyd’s unlawful homicide, the involved Troopers who committed this unlawful homicide took time to deliberate before they decided to end Christian Hall’s life. We obtained justice for George Floyd and we will obtain justice for Christian Hall,” Crump and Jacob said.
The suit seeks monetary damages of an unspecified amount. Mancuso, in response, reiterated that the shooting was “justified” and accused the family’s attorneys of pushing a “false narrative.”
“The circumstances surrounding the use of deadly force demonstrate that such force was justified under the circumstances known to the officers,” Mancuso said in a statement. “The attempts by the attorneys to mislead the public and now the filing of a frivolous suit against the DA’s Office is yet another example that they are motivated not by the pursuit of justice but the allure of monetary gain.”