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Jamiel Shaw's family sues sheriff over release of alleged killer

May 11, 2009 |  4:54 pm

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The family of slain high school football star Jamiel Shaw II sued the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, alleging that the department was negligent in releasing Shaw’s suspected killer from prison despite his immigration status.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, names Sheriff Lee Baca as a defendant and alleges that he “knew or should have known that they were releasing a convicted felon and illegal alien with an extensive history of gang violence into the Los Angeles community to perpetrate killings against African Americans.”

Shaw, 17, a talented running back who was recruited by Stanford and Rutgers, was gunned down last March, allegedly by Petro Espinoza, a reputed gang member who was in the U.S. illegally. Espinoza had been released from jail 28 hours before the shooting, after serving time for an earlier offense.

Shaw’s death led to the proposal of Jamiel’s Law, a controversial ballot initiative to allow city police to arrest illegal-immigrant gang members just for being in the country illegally, but the petition failed to get enough signatures to qualify for the May ballot.

The lawsuit also alleges wrongful death, civil rights violations and a violation of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, which outlines the agreement between federal and local authorities for immigration enforcement.

“We think that [Shaw’s death] could’ve been avoided had they simply made use of the resources they had,” said Wesley Profit, an attorney representing Shaw’s family. “It’s not as if [Espinoza] was new to the system….He’s been in the system since he was a juvenile.”

Espinoza was ordered by a judge last June to stand trial on murder charges in Shaw's death. He remains in custody.

Related:

Ask and deport, family urges

Star L.A. athlete couldn't outrun gangs

Army mother comes home to tragedy

Homicide Report: Jamiel Shaw Jr., 17

More photos: Funeral service for Jamiel Shaw Jr.

Photo: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

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