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Poway parents file wrongful death suit in son's shooting

The parents of a teen who died from a shooting in a Poway, California, home in 2011 have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against another teen and his parents. The victim's parents believe their son was shot by the other teen.

The details of what happened on Nov. 4, 2011 may never be known beyond the fact that three teens were in the home of one of them in the northern San Diego County city after school. According to law enforcement, the three, all 17, were smoking marijuana in a bedroom when the victim, apparently in a reaction to something in the marijuana, began acting bizarrely, striking himself in the face with a pan. Apparently, while the teen who lived in the house went to another room to call 911, the other two remained in the bedroom. That's when the victim was shot in the head. He died two weeks later.

The teen who was with the victim left the house immediately after the shooting. When officers came to his home that evening, the family's attorney would not let them speak to him or retrieve any evidence. No charges were filed against the teen for the shooting. The man who owned the home pleaded guilty to leaving a loaded gun in the house and was given probation and community service.

The district attorney's office has indicated that the case is closed. The autopsy report noted that they could not determine if the gunshot wound was self-inflicted. The lack of any indictment against the boy who was in the room indicated that the teen shot himself in his drug-induced state.

The victim's parents believe differently. According to their lawsuit, the other teen shot the victim. The suit accuses the teen of negligence in failing to help their son and in his handling of the gun. They are also suing the boy's parents for not controlling their son. Meanwhile, attorneys representing the victim's parents are seeking ballistics and pathology results from the sheriff's department.

Clearly this is a tragic story, regardless of what happened. However, far too many questions were left unanswered for grieving parents. If the district attorney and law enforcement are considering the case closed, the family has every right to seek justice for their son. Perhaps, as is often the case, evidence will be discovered in the civil case that was not found during the criminal investigation.

Source:  U-T San Diego, "Family of Poway boy killed in '11 says son's friend 'breached his duty of care' and 'negligently' handled firearm" J. Harry Jones, Oct. 19, 2013

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