IMMOKALEE, Fla. — The family of Nicolas Morales announced Thursday that they are filing a federal lawsuit against three Collier County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) deputies, alongside Sheriff Kevin Rambosk.
Family, friends, and Morales’ newly formed legal team hosted a press conference at the Fort Myers federal courthouse to speak to their suit.
“Nicholas’ case was horrific. He was shot and killed within 20 seconds of officers arriving at the scene. When we started to dig into it we realized this case is not an anomaly. It’s one of the many instances in Collier County where the Sheriff’s Office beat, abuse, and kill civilians,” said Alexa Van Brunt, the Director of the Illinois Office of the MacArthur Justice Center – a legal partner in Morales’ case.
Morales’ family is filing the lawsuit against CCSO officers Corporal Pierre Jean, Corporal Nathan Kirk, and Deputy Brian Tarazona. The lawsuit is targeting alleged systemic pattern of violence and lack of discipline among CCSO deputies.
In the press release, the family claimed Morales was suffering from a mental health crisis and wandered around his neighborhood looking for help when a neighbor called 911.
According to CCSO reports, Morales, 37, was shot and killed by deputies after they claimed he ignored commands and threatened them with a shovel and landscaping shears. The incident happened on September 17, 2020 when deputies responded to the area of Edenfield Way.
According to officials, a K-9 unit was also used to try and subdue Morales. The dog bit him on his right shoulder and the encounter lasted 13 seconds, according to deputies.
Morales later died from his injuries at NCH Northeast.
Following the incident, investigators said Cpl. Pierre Jean fired his weapon at Morales and K-9 Cpl. Nathan Kirk released his K-9 onto Morales.
In the press release, Nicolas’ step-son, Jesse Andrade, said the family is looking for more transparency in this investigation:
“The Sheriff’s Office is trying to sweep this case under the rug but for us, what happened to Nicolas two years ago feels like it just happened yesterday,” Andrade said. “We are here and we are still fighting for justice from one of the richest counties in Florida. They have to answer to the people for killing a member of our family. Farmworkers are human beings and we demand to be treated like human beings.”
Back in 2021, Nicolas’ family attorney called for a federal investigation after the State Attorney’s Office decided to not charge Cpl. Pierre Jean for shooting and killing Morales.
CCSO also released a statement following the release:
“We cannot comment on pending litigation. We can tell you that a death investigation, an independent review by the State Attorney’s Office and an investigation by our Professional Responsibility Bureau all determined that the deputies’ actions were justifiable and were within both policy and the law,” CCSO said.
Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk in the lawsuit. The family is alleging he has allowed a violent culture to carry on within CCSO.
No further details are available at this time. Count on NBC2 to bring you the latest developments as we learn them.