VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) — The wrongful death lawsuit trial against four Virginia Beach police officers in connection with the death of India Kager began Wednesday.
Kager's mother, Gina Best, filed the lawsuit. She and Kager’s estranged husband, Shaun Lowrance, are seeking $30 million in damages.
Police were looking at Kager's boyfriend, Angelo Perry, in connection to a murder in 2015. Perry and Kager were in a car in a 7-Eleven parking lot with their 4-month-old son when officers approached the car. Police said Perry opened fire on them. Officers fired back. Perry and Kager died. Their son survived.
In 2016, Commonwealth's Attorney Colin Stolle cleared those officers from any wrongdoing.
The lawsuit says officers did not shoot Kager intentionally but shot recklessly and should be held accountable for her death.
During the first day of the civil case, both sides gave their opening statements.
On the plaintiffs' side, Kevin Martingayle argued the police operation could have been handled differently in order to prevent Kager from being killed.
Christopher Boynton, the Deputy City Attorney representing the four Virginia Beach police officers, reiterated the commonwealth's attorney's finding that there was no wrongdoing in the operation.
Boynton used video and images from the night of September 5, 2015, to show that officers intended to approach the car on the passenger side where Perry sat, show force, and have him surrender.
Boynton said Perry fired at officers first and that the officers responded reasonably when they fired back. He made it clear that Perry was the person in which officers were interested, not Kager. He took a moment to acknowledge Kager's death, which he called a tragedy.
The court adjourned around 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Martingayle said he believes his clients had a strong day.
"I hope the jury finds in favor of the estate, and we hope the jury sends a message this just can't happen. You can't have outcomes like this. Police have to do better," said Martingayle.
The case will pick up again Thursday at 8:30 a.m. It’s expected to continue through the rest of the week.
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