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Family of Camden Co. woman killed during drug raid to sue sheriff’s office for $25M

Attorneys compare James’ death to the death of Breonna Taylor – the woman who was shot and killed while police executed a search warrant in Louisville.

CAMDEN COUNTY, Ga. — Camden County and its sheriff’s office will soon be slapped with a lawsuit.

The intent to sue filing comes after 37-year-old Latoya James was killed on May 4 while visiting her cousin in his home south of Woodbine. The sheriff’s office says they were executing a drug-related search warrant at the home at the time of the shooting.

Family members, friends and activists showed up to the Camden County courthouse Thursday to show support for James. Family attorney Bakari Sellers also announced their plan to sue all involved the day James was killed.

He says they are still in the process of putting their suit together, but will seek no less than $25 million dollars in damages for the wrongful death of James.

According to their intent to sue filing, they believe deputies did not follow Georgia Code for serving a no-knock warrant and did not have reasonable suspicion of a sufficient exigency to prompt a forceful no-knock entry.

“What you saw wasn't law enforcement. What you saw was the wild wild west. It was a botched raid at best. It was a murder at worse," Sellers explained. "Anytime you come to someone's door before 5:00 a.m., you say 'here I am' and within seconds start shooting – that is not law enforcement. That's not anybody's policy and procedure, that is a violation of their civil rights."

James' brother and mother are still devastated by her loss and demand answers.

“She meant so much to this family. Now, I have a hole in my heart," Betty Jean Murphy-James, Latoya’s mother said. "She had a beautiful heart. She really did. That was Latoya."

“We're tired. We're angry. We're frustrated. We just want what's due to us. Why did this happen? Why did it happen at this time of the day?“ Demetrius James, Latoya’s brother asked. “My sister didn’t have a chance, she was shot in the back. We want answers.” 

Sellers compared James’ death to the death of Breonna Taylor – the woman who was shot and killed while police executed a search warrant in Louisville. The case caught national attention.

“It's so similar to Breonna Taylor that it just drives me crazy," the attorney said. “Here, you have a black woman who we have to lift up and allow her voice to be heard even from the grave. And we have to protect black women because, apparently, in Camden County, they're not being protected by law enforcement. “ 

James' family and local activists are also calling for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to release all the body camera footage of the incident.

The footage released by GBI in May shows a little more than three minutes of closer to four hours worth of footage from a deputy’s camera.

GBI said it's currently conducting an independent investigation. When completed, it will be turned over to the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office for review.