UPDATE March 4, 2020: Online court records say there was a settlement in the civil case between the family of Jiansheng Chen and Jonathan Cromwell Feb. 27, 2020.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The family of a man shot and killed in 2017 has filed a lawsuit against the security guard accused of his murder — as well as his employer and a community association.
Chesapeake police said Johnathan Cromwell, an employee of Citywide Protection Services at the time, was patrolling the River Walk neighborhood in Chesapeake when he fatally shot 60-year-old Jiansheng Chen. Cromwell was later charged with first-degree murder.
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Chen’s family has claimed the 60-year-old was playing the smartphone game Pokemon Go before he was killed. Defense attorneys, meanwhile, have argued Cromwell was acting in self-defense when he shot Chen.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Virginia Beach late last week, is seeking $5 million in damages.
In the suit, Cromwell is accused of having a “dangerous, aggressive, erratic, careless and violent” nature with a known “propensity” for brandishing or threatening to use his firearm in situations where it wasn’t warranted.
The lawsuit alleges Citywide Protection Services knew — or should have known — of these tendencies when it hired Cromwell.
According to the lawsuit, Cromwell and other guards employeed by Citywide were carrying loaded firearms while on patrol — despite a contract between the River Walk Community Association and Citywide that called for unarmed security guards.
Cromwell had also acted dangerously toward residents and guests of the River Walk community prior to his confrontation with Chen, according to the lawsuit.
The association is accused of failing to inform Citywide of Cromwell’s behavior.
Cromwell is scheduled to go to trial for murder in Chesapeake on Feb. 19.