Tampa Personal Injury Attorney TJ Grimaldi recently filled a lawsuit against the Tampa Police Department on behalf of the Westcott family
Mother of Jason Westcott Suing Tampa Police Department for Negligence
On the week of the two-year anniversary of Jason Westcott’s death, Westcott’s mother Patricia Silliman filed a lawsuit against the Tampa Police Department (TPD). The lawsuit states that TPD was negligent in their use of an informant, who had a history of violence and significant drug use. It also states that the police used “excessive force” when raiding Westcott’s home. The lawsuit disputes a police claim that Westcott was in a “shooting stance with his arm raised, holding a gun”, when police officers shot him. Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that the police did not make their presence known as they entered the home.
On May 27th, 2014, TPD raided Westcott’s home on a tip from informant Ronnie Coogle, a known drug addict. Coogle told police that Westcott and his boyfriend Israel Reyes had a gun or guns with them at all times during “controlled purchases”. Coogle later admitted to the Tampa Bay Times that the information that he provided was false.
However, this information was the basis for a raid that left Westcott dead at the hands of Cpl. Eric Wasierski and Officer Edwin Perez, who are among a group of nine current and former members of the police department who are named in the suit. Former Tampa police Chief Jane Castor is among those named. The police department asserted in an investigation that ultimately ended with Wasierski and Perez being cleared of all wrongdoing by the Hillsborough County State’s Attorney, that Westcott grabbed his gun and was ready to fire it at the officers. However, Silliman’s attorney, TJ Grimaldi, counters that Westcott’s wounds are not consistent with someone who was aiming a gun. He also asserts that Westcott had no knowledge that the police were entering his home.
The lawsuit has caught the attention of local media, including the following stories by the Tampa Bay Times, Fox 13 News, and ABC Action News:
Silliman hopes for the lawsuit and the renewed attention of this tragedy are threefold. She hopes to clear her son’s name, she hopes that this attention will help to prevent this from happening to others nationwide and she hopes that TPD will adapt the use of body camera technology that is used by police departments in other cities.
TJ Grimaldi joined McIntyre in 2011. McIntyre recruited TJ to create the divisions of personal injury and family law, as well as to expand the existing criminal defense practice at the firm. During TJ’s tenure at McIntyre, he has helped oversee and grow these practice areas. He continues to practice in these divisions while also expanding his own practice areas to include estate planning and immigration law. TJ is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Florida and the United States District Court for the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida.