Family of man shot, killed by Virginia Beach Police files $15 million wrongful death lawsuit

Family of man shot, killed by Virginia Beach Police files $15 million wrongful death lawsuit
Posted at 12:46 PM, Nov 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-07 23:40:20-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Thursday morning, the family of 57-year old Jeffrey Tyree filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Virginia Beach Detective Bradley Colas and another Virginia Beach Police officer.

Tyree was shot and killed on February 9, 2019, near the 5700 block of Pauite Road.

Police responded to a domestic incident at his home, where they said they encountered a man holding a large knife attempting to harm himself. Officers attempted to negotiate with him for several hours to put the weapon down.

The man put the knife down, and officers went to engage with him. At that time, the man picked up the knife and approached an officer in what the department called a "threatening manner."

A second officer discharged his firearm once, striking the man.

"We are filing a wrongful death lawsuit, seeking justice and accountability. The purpose is to get answers to questions, and this is what it has come down to," said Attorney Sarah Gelsomino, who is representing Tyree's estate.

In September of this year, prosecutors said Detective Colas was justified for using deadly force.

They said after reviewing all the information in the investigation, it is “clear” that Colas was acting in defense of another officer on scene.

No criminal charges were brought against Colas.

Tyree's family disagrees with the findings of the Commonwealth.

"Jeff was made out to be a monster. He was a great man, great in his community. He was also disabled and there was no way he could of lunged at officers," said Tim Tyree, Jeffrey's brother.

Tim said family members called the police seeking help that day because Jeffrey was suffering from a mental health crisis. They claim Jeffrey was in the yard of his mother’s home when Defendant Officer Tuft-Williams tackled him without warning from behind. Defendant Colas then fired his gun, striking Tyree.

Tyree later died.

"A major problem since this all went down is that we have been seeking information from the police and Commonwealth's attorney, and they have refused to give us anything," said Gelsomino.

The family and their attorneys are stressing the need for more transparency and have made numerous public record requests for reports, photographs and interviews they believe should be public as the investigation is complete.

"I have never once dealt with a department or prosecutor's office that has been so disinterested in transparency and accountability," said Gelsomino.

News 3 reached out to the City of Virginia Beach. They say the City Attorney's office has not seen the lawsuit, so they are unable to provide comment.