A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit against two Miami Gardens police officers involved in the shooting death of a mentally ill man who attacked them with a metal-tipped broomstick.
The lawsuit was filed by relatives of Lavall Hall, who battled schizophrenia and had barricaded himself inside his home before police were summoned in February 2015. Hall attacked police in a series of running confrontations on the street — one cop was gashed in the forehead — before he lunged at Officer Eddo Trimino, who shot him dead.
Trimino’s use of force was reasonable in light of the “potential danger posed” to the cops and public, U.S. District Judge Lawrence King ruled in his order. “A jagged piece of wood swung at the head can cause death or serious bodily harm,” King wrote.
The ruling comes six months after Miami-Dade prosecutors ruled that Trimino was “justified” in using deadly force against the 25-year-old Hall. The killing drew widespread attention amid the increased national scrutiny on police tactics, particularly against black men.
Hall’s family has insisted that officers did not have resort to gunfire.
“The family is very disappointed but we have tremendous respect for Judge King,” said their attorney, Judd Rosen. “We think these types of cases need to continue to be the focus of serious conversations in our community. We understand policing is essential, and we need to always strive to make sure officers are even handed.”
The lawsuit also cleared the city of Miami Gardens and Officer Peter Ehrlich, who suffered a wound to the head from the broomstick and used his Taser stun gun to no avail on Hall.
Portions of the incident were captured on dash-cam video released by the family in April 2015.
That day, Hall’s mother called police because he had suffered another mental breakdown and they were “in the bedroom hiding.” Ehrlich later found Hall on the street in his underwear, barefoot. He hit the officer “five or six times on the top of the head in an overhead motion, as if chopping wood,” the judge wrote.
Ehrlich was later hospitalized and needed stitches. Trimino gave chase and was also hit on the head during the running attempts to corral Hall, which included the use of both cops’ Taser stun guns.
Hall ran toward Trimino’s open car, where his police rifle was stowed, before turning around raising the broomstick one last time, even as Trimino hollered: “Get on the ground or you’re f--king dead.” He fired five times, hitting Hall twice.