In Fayetteville, North Carolina, the Fayette Police Department faces a federal wrongful death charge from the November 2011 shooting of a motorist during a traffic stop.
On behalf of the estate of her son Gregory Paul Townsend, Johanna Townsend initiated the lawsuit in February. On November 17, 2011, in the parking lot of a local sports bar and pub, Fayetteville police officer, Bobby Cash, shot Townsend three times in the back during a struggle in the traffic stop while another officer stood nearby.
The traffic stop and fight were recorded by the club’s surveillance footage, where Townsend was seen to be unarmed against the officers. While being treated in the hospital for his gunshot wounds, Townsend developed sepsis and died ten days later, according to the lawsuit that names the city, the police department, Officer Cash, Officer Napieralski, and former Police Chief Tom Bergamine as defendants.
The officers are currently still on the force. The lawsuit alleges that Cash pulled over Townsend for illegally crossing the median on the street and Townsend was very cooperative when Cash stopped him. However, Cash, who had been on the force for under a year at the time, did not know how to fill out a ticket for someone illegally driving over a median.
Napieralski arrived about twenty minutes later to assist Cash and upon running a background check on Townsend, found that his license had been revoked. Both officers then went back to Townsend’s car to speak with Townsend when Cash reached into the car and pulled Townsend out by his arms. Cash and Townsend struggled and hit each other on the ground until Cash drew his gun and shot Townsend.
The lawsuit also claims there was negligence, poor training, and poor supervision of the officers, and that the officers violated Townsend’s constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable search or seizure and not to have his life taken without due process of law. The findings are currently under further investigation by Townsend’s lawyers.