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Family Of Broward Teen Who Drowned, Attorneys Announce Intent To Sue, Demand 'Justice For Damain'

Ben Crump
Caitie Switalski
/
WLRN
Nationally recognized civil rights attorney Ben Crump, second from right, stands with the mother of Damain Martin and other activists at a press conference Thursday in Lauderhill.

Nationally recognized civil rights attorney Ben Crump is demanding answers from law enforcement on behalf of the family of a Broward County teen who drowned last spring.

Damain Martin, 16, drowned in March 2019 after police were called to respond to a stolen car spotted in Sunrise. Damain was one of four young men who fled on foot, and he tried to escape police by jumping into a canal nearby in Lauderhill.

 

Now, his family is demanding the Sunrise Police Department answer their questions that remain about his death. 

Crump and the group of family, friends and activists gathered Thursday in front of the canal where Damain drowned, chanting "Justice for Damain! Justice for Damain! Justice for Damain!" 

Members from the local chapters of Black Lives Matter and the NAACP also gathered to express their support.

Crump announced Damain's family is taking the first steps towards suing the Sunrise Police Department over how they handled his drowning.

"It is inexplicable to this family why Damain Martin at 16 years old — who swam in this canal all his life — would drown and the police would stand there watching him drown," Crump said.

His co-counsel in this case, Sue-Ann Robinson, is based in Broward.

"First responders have a duty to respond," Robinson said. "In our investigation ... it looks like the police officers in this case failed that duty for Damain Martin."

Crump is known for representing the family of Trayvon Martin. Last year, he also began representing the family of Delucca Rolle — a teen injured in an after-school altercation with Broward Sheriff's Office deputies in Tamarac. 

Read More: National Civil Rights Attorney Takes On Case Of Tamarc Teen 'Excessively Abused' By Police

Damain's mother, Tequila Waters, told reporters on Thursday that she still has questions about her son's death because Damain was a strong swimmer and the family wants to know whether he was struck by a Taser before he drowned. 

"My son was a very sweet, humble boy... he did not deserve this," Waters said Thursday. "I want to know, he was in that lake — why nobody didn't do anything. ... I thought the police was supposed to help and watch over us, take care of us. ... I don't see no serving or protecting."

The Broward Sheriff's Office and the county's medical examiner ruled Damain's death an accidental drowning. The medical examiner's report also looked for Taser marks on Damain's skin and did not find any of his scars to be from electrical burns. 

Sunrise Police's internal investigation found its officers did not do anything wrong.

As of 4 p.m. Thursday, the city of Sunrise confirmed through a spokesperson for the police department that they had not yet received the family's notice of intent to sue.