In the wake of the Castile verdict, and the Milwaukee verdict and really, every police shooting verdict, it can be hard to have faith in the law and in the course of justice; still, some people still have faith in the system.
Fritz Severe’s family had faith.
The case was pretty clear-cut: Fritz Severe was a black homeless man who frequented a park in Miami near the Culmer/Overtown branch of the Miami Public Library.
It was a warm, day, June 11, 2015. Fritz was fond of carrying around a metal pipe that, according to the Miami New Times, he called his “little stick.”
There were about 50 children near Severe that day; they were at summer camp. A park employee saw the children, and saw Severe, and called 911, assuming that the man was harassing the children.
A police officer, Antonio Torres, showed up, and, in front of all of the children — who Severe hadn’t bothered at all — fired five shots into Severe, killing him.
The children, as one would imagine, were traumatized. As were many adults, who asked why Torres hadn’t tasered Severe, or even tried to speak with him before firing.
So here we go: a policeman shoots an unarmed black man who was homeless in front of 50 small children.
What do you think happened to him?
Don’t forget, all of this happened in America.
Mmmhmm, you guessed it: nothing happened to Torres at all!
He still has his job, and the State Attorney’s Office declined to bring charges against him.
It’s like the incident never happened.
Except, all those children watched a man being ripped apart by bullets. That sight is etched into their psyches.
“This has had a permanent scarring effect on young kids who witnessed something they shouldn’t have,” Richard Diaz, a former policeman who is now the Severe family’s attorney, told the Times, “The collateral damage is, I think in some ways, even greater than the shooting itself.”
The Severe family is upset about the children, and is even more upset at Miami and Florida’s inaction in the case.
And so, this week, they’ve filed a suit against the city and against Torres in federal court.
Diaz is sure that the family has a strong case — there were a ton of witnesses, some of whom have already gone on record as saying Severe was very clearly doing nothing wrong.
Diaz says that he hopes the suit won’t just bring closure to the Severe family, but will help the citizens of Miami to “form conclusions about the police” that are more positive than the ones commonly held now.