Parents of teen killed by officer file claim $20 million sought in 'wrongful' death' BALTIMORE CITY

June 30, 1993|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

A $20 million civil action has been filed on behalf of the estate and parents of a teen-ager shot dead in March by a city police officer.

The claim accuses Officer Nicholas Pelekakis, a 13-year veteran of the Police Department, of "wrongfully" shooting and killing 15-year-old Antoine Johnson on March 22 in the 3300 block of Park Circle.

A city grand jury decided not to indict the 37-year-old officer, who said he shot the Johnson youth because he feared for his life. The youth was shot after the officer spotted a stolen car with three youths inside. The officer said that while he was arresting two youths, the third, Antoine Johnson, threw the car into reverse and tried to run him down.

In April, Antoine's mother won a court order allowing her lawyer to inspect the stolen car in which her son was killed. The lawyer, Thomas C. Cardaro, said yesterday that a bullet hole in the car suggests the officer was off to the side of the vehicle, "in a place of safety," when he fired the fatal shot.

The claim was mailed June 15 to the city solicitor's office, a step required before a suit can be filed against the city, Mr. Cardaro said. The claim says the Police Department, its commissioner and the city and state governments should be held liable for the shooting because they failed to suspend Officer Pelekakis after he was charged in February with assaulting three Baltimore County youths during an unrelated off-duty incident.

"Had the defendants not violated this duty, Officer Pelekakis would have been suspended from the police force on March 22, 1993, and he would thus not have shot and killed Antoine Johnson," the claim states.

The claim seeks $5 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages for the youth's estate. It seeks the same amounts for the boy's parents.

Mr. Cardaro said a civil suit is planned if the claim is not resolved. He said the law prevents the filing of a suit until at least six months after a claim is filed with the city.

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