The father and brother of a Tacoma woman killed by gang members in a case of mistaken identity are suing the state Department of Corrections, claiming it didn’t do enough to supervise the felons later convicted in Camille Love’s death.
William Love seeks unspecific damages for the estate of his daughter, who was 20 when a number of gang members shot up her car when it stopped for a traffic light in Tacoma on Feb. 7, 2010.
Camille Love died and her brother, Joshua Love, was injured as he sat in the passenger seat.
Authorities said the men targeted the car because it was red, a color associated with a rival gang with which the men had an ongoing, violent dispute.
The Loves were not involved in that dispute but were simply minding their own business the day they were attacked.
Joshua Love is seeking money to compensate him for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering and other alleged damages.
The lawsuit, filed by lawyer Vicky Currie in February in Pierce County Superior Court, contends the seven gang members later convicted in Camille Love’s death were previously convicted felons under the supervision of the Department of Corrections.
“Each of the gang members have been classified by the DOC as a high risk and dangerous offender, or a high violent offender, because of their gang ties, extensive criminal background spanning several years and because of the amount of harm they had caused society by their previous criminal activities,” the lawsuit states.
“The DOC did virtually nothing to apprehend the gang members months before the murder and assault, while knowing these felons had violated numerous conditions of their community supervision and that they posed a very serious risk of danger to the public at large,” the suit continues.
Chad Lewis, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, declined to comment on the lawsuit Monday, saying it is the department’s general policy not to talk publicly about pending litigation.
The department has yet to file a formal legal answer to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit originally named the city of Tacoma as a defendant as well, but Superior Court Judge Garold Johnson dismissed the city from the lawsuit Friday.
William and Joshua Love contended the city “violated its duty of care and its duty to act reasonably and carefully by failing to arrest know gang members who posed a serious threat to the public.”
City lawyers countered that gang membership is not a crime.
“Police cannot arrest a suspect without probable cause that the suspect committed a crime,” the city said in its written answer to the lawsuit. “Without probable cause, the defendant lacks the ability to legally intervene into the gang members’ actions.”
Johnson agreed but left open the possibility the city could be brought back into the lawsuit if the plaintiffs find evidence of negligence, Currie said Monday.
Three of the seven men charged in the case ultimately were convicted of first-degree murder and are severing prison time. Two were convicted of leading organized crime and also are in prison. The two others remain at large.