TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - The loved ones of a suspect killed during a chase in 2017 plans to file a lawsuit against the Tampa Police Department, family members revealed Tuesday.
According to police, in October 2017, officers attempted to stop Dusharn "D.J." Weems, who was driving a stolen car connected to a home invasion. Weems allegedly ditched the car at an intersection on North 30th Street and started running.
Dashboard camera video provided to FOX 13 by the family's attorney shows an officer stepping on the gas and pulling into a parking lot on Busch Boulevard. Weems can be seen sprinting through the lot, until he and the cruiser collide, knocking him to the ground.
Weems ended up with a traumatic brain injury and died two days later.
"You can see the fear in his eyes, you can see him looking back as he's trying to get away from the car because he sees this car coming toward him," said Katrina Hall, Weems' godsister.
Hall believes the officer used an unnecessarily dangerous maneuver to block her loved one’s path.
"I know that police use the cars to do PITT stops, they hit another vehicle to kind of stop it. I've never seen that used on a human before," she said. "There are other methods that I feel that they could have stopped him. Why wasn't he Tased? There were too many officers for them to use a vehicle to stop him. He would still be alive today; he would still be able to be with his daughter if they would have used one of these methods."
In the weeks following the incident, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan met with the family, but the two sides didn't see eye to eye.
"We haven't got the truth yet, we're still waiting on the truth," said Reginald Bolton, Weems' godfather. "If you look at the footage, you will see where the police vehicle took an angle and went towards him and that's how he died."
Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, however, believes police handled it properly.
Investigators determined Weems ran into the side of the cruiser, causing the fall that led to his death.
In a letter clearing the officer of wrongdoing in February 2018, Warren wrote, "Mr. Weems' death was an accident which occurred during the lawful pursuit of Mr. Weems."
A TPD spokesperson referred FOX 13 to previous comments about the case because the department doesn't comment on pending litigation.