LANCASTER, Calif. (KABC) -- The family of a woman shot and killed by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy earlier this month has begun the process of suing the department and county for $30 million.
The case revolves around the shooting of 27-year-old Niani Finlayson after she called 911 to report that her ex-boyfriend had tried to strangle her. But when deputies arrived, they found Finlayson holding a knife and threatening her ex-boyfriend.
According to the department, when she moved toward the man, a deputy opened fire, killing her.
"As she sought to be protected, instead she was executed," said Brad Gage, an attorney representing Finlayson's family. "Niana was sitting on the ground when she was shot in the back."
Gage said Finlayson had the knife to protect herself and her 9-year-old daughter Xiasha from the ex-boyfriend and said there was no reason for the deputy to shoot her.
"Niani was obviously upset that this man had injured her and her daughter but did not take any violent actions," Gage said at a news conference Thursday.
The sheriff's department released a statement saying the shooting is being investigated.
"The Department has not officially received this claim but takes all deputy-involved shootings seriously. In the effort of transparency, the Department will be releasing the body-worn camera footage of the incident by next week, which is earlier than the required timeframe.
With any deputy-involved shooting, there is a robust review process, which includes the Office of Inspector General, where every aspect of the shooting is thoroughly examined and evaluated to see if Department policies and procedures were followed.
Additionally, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, Justice System Integrity Division, conducts a legal analysis to determine whether any criminal charges will be filed and if the shooting was legally justified.
The Department is deeply committed to protecting our diverse communities without bias and prejudice."