Parents of Stanley Davis III, killed on dirt bike, suing city and fired police officer

(As originally published with bells and whistles, Mon, November 21st 2022, 3:42 PM EST)

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — The parents of Stanley Davis III filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Boynton Beach and a former police officer over the death of their son, almost a year ago.

The suit claims the 13 year old “was unlawfully chased in a high-speed police pursuit by BPD Officer Mark Sohn on December 26, 2021.”

It happened after Davis left the Chevron station on Federal Highway and Boynton Beach Boulevard.

Surveillance video showed Davis getting back on that bike moments before investigators said he tried to escape from Sohn. Instead, he crashed into the median on Federal Highway, and his body was thrown into a sign. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

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Sohn was wearing a body camera but that video has not been released. His police vehicle did not have a camera.

The suit claims, “Defendant Sohn stated that he could not determine if Stanley Davis III’s bike was street legal and registered street worthy; and as such, he had no probable cause to turn around and engage in a stop and pursuit.”

It adds, “The manner in which Defendant Sohn maneuvered his vehicle in the high-speed pursuit caused a fatal crash resulting in the minor child’s death.”

A crash investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol determined Davis had been driving recklessly at approximately 85 miles per hour and unlawfully fleeing the attempted traffic stop. The posted speed limit was just 35.

The FHP also conducted a traffic homicide investigation and found there was no physical contact between the police officer’s vehicle and Davis’ motorcycle.

Stanley Davis III, 13; and Boynton Beach Police officer Mark Sohn as he took the stand during the trial of Lex Eugene in 2019. (WPEC)

Its closing status said, “This investigation is complete, and no charges shall be filed, because the at-fault person expired as a result of the crash.”

Sohn worked for the Boynton Beach Police Department for 20 years and has been the subject of controversial cases.

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But the lawsuit — filed by attorney Ben Crump and two South Florida lawyers — also claims, “Sohn has caused the death of three African American citizens of the City of Boynton Beach by conducting unlawful high-speed police chases, has been sued several times in the past for using excessive force against African Americans, has been disciplined at work for using racist language, and has a long and documented history of misconduct in the context of his employment with the City of Boynton Beach.”

Then, it went further, saying Sohn “had a history of physically abusing, brutalizing and terrorizing the Black community [and] did not even attempt to render any lifesaving treatment, CPR or check his pulse to see if he was alive.”

The FHP investigation reports were released March 31.

The next week, Crump called for a U.S. Justice Department investigation and supporters of the Davis family protested for Sohn to be both firedand arrested.

Since the crash, the city’s former police chief resigned, and its former city manager was fired.

RELATED: Was officer’s history of breaking department pursuit policy enough to fire him?
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Sohn’s firing came in August when a police department Internal Affairs investigation found he’d violated department policies on Vehicular Pursuits and Apprehensions, Conduct Unbecoming, Unsatisfactory Performance, and Law Enforcement Officer’s Code of Ethics — but no laws.

This lawsuit, filed last week, is asking for at least $75,000 for each of three counts, as well as punitive damages.

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