A Thorough Approach

A 25-year-old immigrant mother was gunned down at home by her estranged husband while holding their baby in her arms, just before the shooter turned the gun on himself and pulled the trigger. The administrator of the mother’s estate retained Faxon Law Group to investigate the case on behalf of her two orphans, who were American citizens, but being cared for by relatives in Turkey after the murder-suicide. At first blush, it looked like a tragic and unpreventable domestic violence incident.

Immediately, however, Faxon Law Group went to work filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for all 911 calls related to this incident, MDT data printouts from the intra-department communications at the West Haven Police Department (WHPD), internal affairs investigation reports completed at WHPD, and the State’s Attorney’s file. The 911 calls from the tragic night revealed that multiple calls from the young mother and several concerned citizens were made to the WHPD, pleading with the police to intervene and assist the Turkish refugee and her children because the father, armed with a Glock 9, appeared highly intoxicated and poised to attack his estranged wife and children.

Desperate pleas for help were not only ignored, but the audio tapes obtained by our firm revealed incompetence and discriminatory animus on the part of the dispatcher as well as the police officer on the call, Christopher Stratton IV. The haphazard response by the WHPD appeared to be motivated by the young mother’s Turkish ethnicity—misconduct Faxon Law Group determined to be a direct violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. In one conversation, an officer can even be heard mocking the broken English spoken by the decedent as she frantically tried to communicate that her abusive husband was attempting to break through her door.

Were that not enough, the internal affairs documentation obtained by Faxon Law Group showed the husband, known to the WHPD as a violent domestic abuser, serially violated protective orders in the 12 hour span before the killing, yet police failed to take him into custody.

Our firm took the highly unusual step of charging the officers involved not merely with simple negligence, which the law may have protected with municipal immunity, but tortious discriminatory animus in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In a groundbreaking decision, the Federal District Judge, denied West Haven’s motions to have the case thrown out and ruled a jury must decide the liability of Stratton and the WHPD. Faxon Law Group proved during the proceedings that this entirely preventable tragedy had been facilitated by discriminatory police misconduct.

As part of Faxon Law Group's thorough approach, we retained police practices consultants and economic damages experts to identify the loss of future income the decedent’s children would sustain as a result of their forced deportation from their home in the United Stated to Turkey, as well as an expert from the Yale Child Study Center who treated the children and testified regarding the substantial damages they endured.

Defense attorneys and CIRMA, the insurers for WHPD, agreed to pay $3 million to resolve the case for the death of this Turkish immigrant. This case should forever serve as an example to law enforcement that dealing unfairly with domestic violence victims is unacceptable even when they come to the United States as immigrants. Faxon Law Group’s comprehensive examination of the case brought the police discrimination to light and resulted in obtaining financial security for two deserving children.


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