VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The trial will continue Thursday in a wrongful death lawsuit filed in connection to an officer-involved shooting.
Thursday marked the second day in a civil trial centered on the death of 28-year-old India Kager, who was shot and killed after officers opened fire on a suspect wanted in connection with four local murders.
The suspect police were seeking — 35-year-old Angelo Perry — was also killed in the exchange, which happened at a 7-Eleven on Lynnhaven Parkway in September 2015.
Police say Perry and Kager were sitting in a car outside, when Perry opened fire at officers approaching the car. At the time, Kager was in the driver’s seat and Perry was a passenger.
Kager’s baby was in the back seat of the vehicle, but was unharmed.
The Office of Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle later ruled the four officers involved in the exchange were justified. No charges were filed.
Stolle said at time that it was Perry who put Kager in harm’s way by adjusting his location in the car. “All of the officers were aiming their fire at Mr. Perry. None of the officers targeted Ms. Kager,” he said.
Members of Kager’s family later filed a lawsuit for negligence and battery, seeking $30 million in damages. An attorney for the family, Kevin Martingayle, argued in court Wednesday Kager wasn’t a suspect, and police didn’t consider her life or safety.
The defense said police didn’t know if Kager was or wasn’t a threat, and had no idea there was a baby.
During testimony, multiple officers admitted to hearing that there may have been a third person in the car over their surveillance radio. The officers all agreed on the stand that had they been able to confirm a child was in the car, they would have approached the situation differently.
On Thursday, the plaintiff rested and the jury heard from Kager’s family members, experts, and from officials with the Virginia Beach Police Department involved in the operation that night.
India Kager’s estranged husband and father of one of her children, bursted into tears when he took the stand, leading the judge to call a brief recess.
Kager’s grandmother also testified, she explained she’s concerned Kager’s son may have hearing problems and trouble sleeping since he was in the backseat during the shooting.
She says he’s currently getting testing done to see if that’s the case.
The jury also heard from the officer who made the decision to use the “vehicle takedown” tactic that night, Captain Hatfield, took to the stand.
Captain Hatfield says the reason he didn’t conduct a felony stop instead was because Perry was a high risk armed individual.
He explains when he made the call, he didn’t know who the driver was or about the baby in the back.
Later in the trial, a detective testified he communicated over the radio to all the units involved that night, that he thought there was a third person in the vehicle.
We also heard from another police expert, Jeffrey Noble, who said the officers involved ignored the driver and that possibility of another person in the back.
Day three will bring more testimonies called on by the defense.