New Haven, CT (Law Firm Newswire) April 28, 2011 - West Haven police officers and dispatchers are up against a federal lawsuit for negligence, recklessness, and racial discrimination. Their racially discriminatory behavior and careless actions led to Shengyl Rasim and her young children becoming victims in a murder-suicide by her husband Selami Ozdemir.
When Shengyl Rasim called 911, she had a hard time communicating with the dispatchers the urgency of her call. Her husband, Selami Ozdemir, was going “boom, boom, boom” at the door, but the dispatchers took her concerns for a joke due to her Turkish accent.
“The police completely shrugged off the fact a woman was calling in need, and their duty is to protect the citizens in their neighborhood,” said her family’s attorney Joel T. Faxon. Her husband went on to kill her while their youngest child and the older sibling was still asleep upstairs. The children survived.
“The actions of West Haven were discriminatory and if a Caucasian woman made the same call, no lawsuit would have been filed, no one would have been killed, and there would be no orphans involved,” Faxon said.
When it was discovered that their actions were involved in the tragic events leading up to the murder, the two police officers and two dispatchers only were tapped with unpaid disciplinary time off for one to three days.
“The jury needs to punish the town of West Haven adequately through a financial penalty, because obviously they can’t supervise and monitor their own employees,” said Faxon, of the Connecticut personal injury and Connecticut malpractice law firm Stratton Faxon.
The mother of the slain 25-year-old Shengyl Rasim, Asiye Usta, is pressing the lawsuit in U.S. District Court on behalf of her daughter’s estate and the two minor children that survived. She wants the brutal murder-suicide of her daughter to be a wake up call to the West Haven police department and show the need for adequate funding of domestic violence programs. Shengyl’s husband had been arrested the night before for beating her and intoxication. Selami Ozdemir had also violated a protective order three times in 12 hours before he shot his wife.
The West Haven Police Department internal affairs report documented 12 charges of neglect of duty or conduct unbecoming of employees. “This is probably the most preventable tragedy that I have ever witnessed in my career as a lawyer,” said Faxon. “They obviously don't treat human life very seriously. This lawsuit will inflict a penalty on the Town that the department itself was unwilling to impose."
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