Coopers File Suit Against Rockford

By: Narina Crain
By: Narina Crain

James Cooper is suing the city of Rockford and Officer Richard Devlieger for more than $8 million. His son Donald Cooper was shot and killed by Officer Devlieger in February.

The shooting happened across the street from The Highlander on North Main Street and Riverside Boulevard. The family already filed a suit previously, but this one specifically asks for damages and more information.

On the night 26-year-old Donald Cooper was shot and killed, police say he was harassing customers at Hilander on North Main and Riverside. A witness told 23 News he saw a police officer chasing Cooper. Officer Devlieger demanded Cooper put his hands up several times, then he shot Cooper in the chest.

"He went straight down. The cop had him down and checked for guns and stuff," said the 14-year-old witness.

Cooper's parents hope this lawsuit will reveal the truth of what happened that night.

"It's taken so long to get questions answered about what happened that night," said James Cooper, the father of Donald Cooper.

Officer Devlieger claimed Cooper got into a shooting stance as if he had a weapon.

"I do believe Donald did not take an aggressive stand that was claimed that night," said Robert Fioretti, the Coopers’ attorney.

Authorities say Cooper turned away from Devlieger, who drew his weapon and told him to stay put. Authorities say Cooper then turned back to the officer and said, "shoot me."

"Was it shoot me, or don't shoot me? We don't know. We do know his hands were up in the air," said Fioretti.

The Coopers’ lawyers claim Rockford police reports left a lot of questions unanswered, such as the distance between Cooper and Officer Devlieger when Cooper was shot dead here across from Highlander.

"Did the shooting take place at one foot, 500 feet? Did the initial contact take place at one foot? How close were they when he was running away? There's not a single document about them," said Lonny Ogus, another attorney for the Coopers.

At the time of the shooting acting chief Dominic Iasparro defended Officer Devlieger.

"That's what makes the job of being a police officer so difficult is you have to act very quickly to protect yourself, to protect the public," said Iasparro on February 6.

Rockford police will not comment on the case now because it is pending litigation.


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