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Virginia Beach files motion to dismiss $50M unlawful death of Deshayla Harris

The original lawsuit alleged attempts to access information regarding Harris' death have been "delayed" or "outright refused."

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Federal court documents filed Monday show attorneys with the City of Virginia Beach are asking a judge to dismiss the $50 million lawsuit filed over the death of Deshayla Harris. 

Harris is one of two people who were shot and killed at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront on March 26, 2021, after Virginia Beach Police Department officers responded to a night of chaos at the resort district after reports of gunfire. 

In the motion to dismiss, city attorneys write, "Although Plaintiff's profound loss is worthy of sympathy, her claims against the city are without merit."

While a $3 million settlement was reached in the case of a VBPD officer shooting and killing Donovon Lynch, it is not yet known to this day who fired the fatal bullet that struck Harris.

Former Lt. Gov Justin Fairfax -- who litigated the Lynch settlement -- represents the plaintiff and Harris' mom, Elisheba Renee Harris. The original lawsuit, filed two days before the second anniversary of Harris' death, alleged that it remains unclear who shot and killed Harris and that VBPD officers failed in their response to create a safe environment at the Oceanfront.

In the motion to dismiss by city attorneys, they add there are claims "without a sufficient factual basis" as well as "speculation."

It also responds to each of the counts laid out in the original suit, for example, "gross negligence."

The original lawsuit reads in part:

"... VBPD’s abject and inexplicable failure to establish a command post presence on the Oceanfront, and to provide no instructions, warnings, or directions to safety, was the proximate cause of Deshayla Harris’s unlawful killing."

The motion to dismiss, in part, responds:

"... Plaintiff does not allege any facts supporting City liability for gross negligence, whether as the employer of these “waterfront” officers or otherwise. And even if some set of plausible facts were alleged, the Virginia Supreme Court has plainly and repeatedly held that “a municipality is immune from liability for a police officer’s negligence in the performance of his duties as a police officer.” 

The other counts alleged, and requested for dismissal by city attorneys, are:

  • Excessive Force and Failure to Train and Supervise
  • Assault and Battery
  • Survivorship, Wrongful Death and Punitive Damages
  • Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Click here to read the city's motion to dismiss.

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