PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Federal lawsuit filed in police shooting death of Immokalee man

Banners outside the federal courthouse in Fort Myers, after attornies filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family of Nicolas Morales.
Mike Walcher, WGCU
photo by Mike Walcher
People hold banners outside the federal courthouse in downtown Fort Myers to mark the filing of a lawsuit in the law enforcement shooting death of Nicolas Morales of Immokalee on Sept. 17, 2020.

The Collier County Sheriff and three law enforcement officers with the department are being sued in federal court in Fort Myers. The suit accuses the officers of acting unlawfully in the fatal shooting of 37-year-old Nicolas Morales-Bessannia, and accuses Collier Sheriff Kevin Rambosk of allowing abuse and violence by his officers.

The CCSO said it stands by the findings of its Professional Responsibility Bureau and the State Attorney's Office. Both concluded the shooting of Morales was justified.

Attorneys for the Morales family are not asking for specific damage amounts. Attorney Chris Lomax said no amount of money would make up for the injustice that's been done.

Officers responded to Immokalee the night of September 17, 2020. Reviews by the Collier County Sheriff's Office Professional Responsibility Bureau and by the State Attorney's Office concluded officers acted reasonably in shooting Morales.

The officers claimed Morales was holding a silvery object in one hand, and they feared it was a revolver or knife.

Retired judge Hugh Starnes came to the courthouse to support the lawsuit filing.

"I respect that officers have to make quick decisions," Starnes said. "I am respectful of that, but to be fair, in hindsight, this seems to be a case in which a man did not have to die. He didn't have a firearm or a knife."

The shooting victim's son, 13-year-old Nicolas Morales, Jr., attended the news conference to announce the suit filing.

"I miss my dad. I know he's watching down from heaven and he's proud of what I am doing," said Morales, Jr. "I am doing this for justice and for others who are going through a situation such as mine."

The Collier County Sheriff's Office is not commenting on the suit. It names officers Pierre Jean, Nathan Kirk and Brian Tarazona as defendants.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

Forty-one-year veteran of television news in markets around the country, including more than 18 years as an anchor and reporter at WINK-TV in southwest Florida.
Related Content
  1. Vigil Held For Immokalee Man Fatally Shot by Collier Sheriff's Office Deputy
  2. Immokalee Shooting Victim's Lawyer Gives Update
  3. Immokalee Community Seeks Answers Regarding Collier Sheriff's Deputy Shooting that Left a Man Dead