The Washington Post

Mourning mother’s wrongful death lawsuit narrowed in deadly 2010 D.C. shootings

A federal judge on Monday significantly narrowed the wrongful death lawsuit of the mother of the youngest victim in the District’s deadliest outbreak of violence in decades.

In a 64-page opinion, Chief U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth dismissed most of Nardyne Jeffries’s civil case against District officials and the city government.

Six men have been convicted in the March 2010 attack on a crowd of mourners that killed five people, including Jeffries’s 16-year-old daughter, Brishell Jones.

Jeffries’s complaint attributes Jones’s death to negligence on the part of numerous government agencies and officials, including Police Chief Cathy Lanier and U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. She seeks $200 million in damages.

Lamberth is clearly sympathetic to the mourning mother, writing that she “feels like her daughter’s death was preventable and that the District could have and should have done more. She wants to see changes made to a system that, she feels, fails to protect vulnerable communities.”

But he writes, “There are strong limits placed on what the courts can do to address these grievances.”

“It is not enough to say that a death was ‘preventable’ or, in hindsight, police had opportunities to intervene earlier,” he wrote.

While Lamberth dismissed most of the claims against individual government officials and entities, he leaves open the possibility for Jeffries to re-file specific claims that relate to the conduct of ambulance operators.

Jeffries claims, according to court documents, that the “ambulance closest to the scene …was the last to arrive” because “the ambulance operators chose to run personal errands.”

Ann covers legal affairs in the District and Maryland for the Washington Post. Ann previously covered state government and politics in California, New Hampshire and Maryland. She joined the Post in 2005.


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