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Lawsuit filed against city, police after man's body was left in van for 49 days

By Updated: October 11, 2018 4:35 PM CT
<strong>Attorneys Murray Wells (center) and Aaron Neglia (right) talk to the media on Thursday, Oct. 11, at the Shelby County Courthouse about a lawsuit filed against the city of Memphis and Police Director Michael Rallings on behalf of the family of Bardomiano Perez Hernandez, whose body was found in the back of a van at the police impound lot.</strong><span>&nbsp;(Jim Weber/Daily Memphian)</span>

Attorneys Murray Wells (center) and Aaron Neglia (right) talk to the media on Thursday, Oct. 11, at the Shelby County Courthouse about a lawsuit filed against the city of Memphis and Police Director Michael Rallings on behalf of the family of Bardomiano Perez Hernandez, whose body was found in the back of a van at the police impound lot. (Jim Weber/Daily Memphian)

Attorneys representing the family of the man whose body was left in a van for seven weeks at the Memphis Police Department impound lot have filed a wrongful-death and negligence lawsuit against the city of Memphis and police director Michael Rallings.

Wells and Associates, the Memphis law firm representing the family of Bardomiano Perez Hernandez, filed the lawsuit on Oct. 11.

Attorneys held a press conference at 2:30 p.m. Thursday on the steps of the Shelby County Courthouse Downtown to discuss the lawsuit and the death of Perez Hernandez.

“We didn’t want to be here today,” said attorney Murray Wells. “It has been a very frustrating case for us, but we think it is important to share why we’re here. As you know, they (the police) completely missed this man in the back of the van and left him there for 49 days. We have now sworn testimony that it is possible he would have survived had he received appropriate attention by the police department.”

Perez Hernandez was shot in the torso during an attempted robbery on Dec. 18, 2017, in the parking lot of the Maureen Manor apartment complex in Binghamton. His body was not discovered until 49 days after the shooting and the van was towed to the Memphis police impound lot.

Police did not find his body. His friend, who was injured in the shooting, found Perez Hernandez’s body after he went to pick up the van before the city auctioned it off. He found the body in the back of the van.

“Who is going to give us answers about how you leave a man to bleed out in the back of a van? Who is going to take responsibility?” Wells asked during the press conference.

He said he reached out to the city for several months on behalf of Perez Hernandez’s family and did not receive a response until August from an attorney with the city of Memphis.

Wells said in August he received a short reply from the city that they were aware of the case. 

“We wanted the city to do something. To say something, and today we have gotten zero response and we have had to go to the trouble of filing a lawsuit,” Wells said. “Now we are going to go find the answers that the city seems to refuse to find in a case that should have been settled and resolved a long time ago.”

The lawsuit names the city and Rallings, the head of MPD, but also lists John Does as defendants because attorneys said others may be named later and the lawsuit amended to reflect their names.

“We want the city to now give us answers legally and we want responsibility for the action and more importantly, explain to the family how this will never happen again to someone else’s loved one,” Wells said.

The city, when asked for a comment Thursday about the lawsuit, said, “This is an ongoing legal matter, and we do not have a comment at this time,” according to an email from Dan Springer, the city's deputy director of Media Affairs.

After the body of 33-year-old Perez Hernandez was found, city leaders called the discovery of his overlooked body by police “unacceptable” and vowed to find out what happened.

Six Memphis police officers made the scene the night the shooting and attempted robbery were reported, according to a police incident report. 

A total of 19 officers were involved in the investigation after Perez Hernandez’s body was found in the van at the impound lot and/or on the night of the shooting.

Two men, Mardracus West, 19, and Earl Brown, 20, were later arrested and charged in the shooting.

An internal investigation was started by MPD. All officers involved in the investigation remain on the job.

The lawsuit calls the actions of the officers negligent for failing to look in the back of the van to see if anyone else was in the vehicle.

The lawsuit seeks $300,000 in damages for Perez Hernandez’s family, including his 2-year-old daughter.

Wells and his law partner, Aaron Neglia, said the lawsuit is not about the money. They said they want policies within MPD and at the impound lot to be reviewed and improved.

“Crime-scene policy would be important to us and a check list,” Wells said. “The other thing is the impound lot. What in the world is going on at the impound lot? We hear problems and problems. Are they not inventorying cars? Or whether or not there is a person who is literally dying in the back of a van. What is going on down there?”

Wells said the city has 30 days to respond to the lawsuit. 



<strong>Attorney Murray Wells talks to the media on Thursday, Oct. 11, about a lawsuit filed on behalf of the family of Bardomiano Perez Hernandez, whose body was found in the back of a van at the police impound lot. &ldquo;... We have now sworn testimony that it is possible (Perez Hernandez) would have survived had he received appropriate attention by the police department,&rdquo; Wells said.</strong>&nbsp;(Jim Weber/Daily Memphian)

Attorney Murray Wells talks to the media on Thursday, Oct. 11, about a lawsuit filed on behalf of the family of Bardomiano Perez Hernandez, whose body was found in the back of a van at the police impound lot. “... We have now sworn testimony that it is possible (Perez Hernandez) would have survived had he received appropriate attention by the police department,” Wells said. (Jim Weber/Daily Memphian)

Topics

Memphis Memphis Police Department Shootings Homicides
Yolanda Jones

Yolanda Jones

Yolanda Jones covers criminal justice issues and general assignment news for The Daily Memphian. She previously was a reporter at The Commercial Appeal.


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