Family of O'Shae Terry files $1M lawsuit against Arlington, fired officer for his death

The family of a man who was shot and killed by an Arlington police officer during a traffic stop is suing the city and the fired officer for $1 million.

Bau Tran is charged with criminally negligent homicide in O’Shae Terry’s death.

The civil lawsuit comes nearly a year to the day since Terry was shot four times during a traffic stop for expired tags.

“You have no idea what it’s like to lose a loved one in a situation like this and have to seek justice,” Terry’s mother, Sherley Woods, said.

Woods lost her 24-year-old son last year.

The man accused of killing him, now-fired Arlington police officer Bau Tran, attended a pretrial hearing last week in the criminal case.

But Woods and her attorney say the criminal charge is not enough, going after Tran for claims of excessive force, and the city of Arlington for alleged negligence in police training.

"O'Shae didn't deserve to lose his life on that day," Woods added.

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O'Shae Terry

Body camera video showed the September 1, 2018, traffic stop when things went terribly wrong.

Another officer initiated the stop for expired tags.

While she was speaking to Terry and his passenger, she thought she smelled pot and returned to her vehicle.

Tran was there as back-up, and approached the passenger’s side, when Terry began to roll up the windows, restart the engine, and put the vehicle into drive.

Officer Tran, who was holding onto the passenger window, yelled repeatedly for Terry to stop, before opening fire, hitting him four times.

“I can’t really speak and say if my son could have did anything different that day, because at that time, I can’t answer what was taking place within his mind to make him even think to start off,” Woods added.

The lawsuit alleges police failed to properly train Tran in de-escalation tactics, and refers to what it calls Arlington PD’s “custom of using excessive force to resolve interactions,” citing several recent wrongful death lawsuits brought against the city.

“We believe this lawsuit, although directed at Officer Tran, rightfully falls at the feet of the city of Arlington,” attorney Lee Merritt said. “It’s on them to change their policy, it’s on them to address leadership issues.”

The city of Arlington said it has no comment on the allegations in the lawsuit at this time.

Police said they found a pound of pot, ecstasy, and a Glock with an extended magazine inside the vehicle.

Woods says her son had re-enrolled in community college before his death and was turning his life around.

“If paying out a settlement - a $1 million, $800,000 settlement - is what taxpayers want to do to remedy the problem, then okay, but the issue is much larger than settlements,” Alisa Simmons, with the Arlington NAACP, said.

FOX4 also reached out to Tran’s attorney, but have not heard back at this time.