CARMICHAEL, Calif. — The family of a 25-year-old black man killed by detectives with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office in January 2021 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
Attorneys representing the victim's family said during a Monday press conference the family is claiming numerous civil rights violations and seeks $100 million in damages in a trial by jury.
Kershawn Geyger, 25, was shot and killed during a traffic stop by detectives with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office Gang Suppression Unit (GMU) outside the Crestview North Apartments in Carmichael on January 15, 2021, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office. His brother JW Geiger was in the passenger seat during the law enforcement encounter and witnessed the incident, Geiger said.
Geyger was a father of two children and worked as an electrician and carpenter, family members said. His parents Yaphette and Jethro Geiger are calling on the Sheriff's office to provide answers into what happened.
"The aftermath of Geyger’s death, the clear lack of transparency and accountability by officials shows that the Sheriff’s Department and county pay little regard to the life and death concerns or expectations of justice from the community," the suit claims. "Instead, the County and Sheriff’s [Office] has displayed a clear carelessness and lack of remorse for the violent misconduct of deputies."
At some point during the law enforcement stop, Geyger is accused of firing at a 47-year-old detective, striking the detective in the abdomen and under his protective vest, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office. The Geyger family has disputed this accusation and said they hope the lawsuit may help provide answers to.
“Without any answers from the County of Sacramento or its Sheriff’s Department, the family of Kershawn Geyger now turns to the Courts to seek justice for his death at the hands of the Sheriff’s deputies," said Nathalie Meza Contreras, an attorney representing the Geyger family. "We want justice for Kershawn and his family."
ABC10 reached out to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office for comment. A spokesperson with the Sheriff’s Office said the Sherriff’s Office and County have a long-standing policy not to comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit claims numerous civil rights and other violations against Sacramento County and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, over their response to the incident including excessive use of force and wrongful death. The family is seeking $100 million in damages and said they hope the legal process will provide more transparency and answers into what happened on the night of January 15, 2021.
“Nearly one year since the violent death of Kershawn Geyger, the deputies continue to work uninterrupted for and with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s [Office] while the friends, family and community of Geyger still grieve his loss and the brutal proof in question of his killing; a change must come,” Attorney Walter Mosley said.
The brother to the victim and witness to the shooting incident, JW Geiger, disputed Sheriff’s Office claims in a 2021 interview and said he and his brother had their hands up and that the detectives did not identify themselves and did not use their red and blue flashing lights. The Sacramento Sheriff’s Office said its deputies did identify themselves and used their police lights.
Geyger was being investigated for his alleged involvement in sparking a “gang-related” shootout which was caught on video hours earlier, the Sacramento Sheriff’s Office said.
The responding detectives were not equipped with a dash camera or body-worn cameras, according to the Sacramento Sherriff’s Office. The patrol vehicles the men were driving were not equipped with dash cameras because of the discrete nature of the gang unit and officers did not use body cameras at the time.
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office released an animated video, detailing the account of the responding detectives, and including some video taken by a police helicopter that appeared to arrive late to the incident. However, the Geyger family is disputing the accuracy of the Sheriff’s Office video based on Geiger’s statements and other witness accounts.
Attorneys said they hope to receive a legal response to the claims in the suit by the end of the month.
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