·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Lawsuits & Litigation

Chicago Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit After Assistant Principal is Shot in His Own Building

— May 17, 2024

The Intrinsic High School assistant principal was shot by an armed neighbor while having an apparent “emotional distress event” in the halls of his high-rise Chicago condominium building.

The family of a Chicago-area assistant principal who was shot and killed by a neighbor inside his own condominium has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a man involved in Abnerd Joseph’s killing last September.

According to CBS News, there have not yet been any criminal charges filed in the shooting that killed former Intrinsic High School Vice Principal Abnerd Joseph last year—but his family hopes that the lawsuit will, at the very least, provide some sense of closure.

“We have been patient despite believing that there is more than enough evidence to move forward with an arrest for those who mercilessly extinguished my brother’s life,” said Jay Charles, one of Joseph’s brothers.

Another of Joseph’s relatives—brother Bryan Bien-Aime—said that the effects of Joseph’s death have reverberated throughout the community.

“That man radiated positivity, and just light,” Bien-Aime said. “Like, we went to his school his morning, and the kids painted a mural of him inside the school. That’s how much they cherisehed this man.”

The Chicago Sun-Times notes that police reports indicate that, in the minutes leading up to Joseph’s death in September, neighbors said that the man—who lived in a condominium on the 29th floor of a Downtown Chicago building—had begun “wildly” knocking on other residents’ doors while “yelling incoherently.”

Image via Brett Gustafson/Wikimedia Commons. (CCA-BY-0.0)/public domain.

Although Joseph’s family disagrees with some of the report’s characterizations of Joseph’s behavior, their lawsuit does say that he was experiencing an “emotional distress event,” was visibly disoriented, and in apparent fear for his life.

After a doorman and several tenants went to investigate, Joseph allegedly struck the doorman several times; another tenant tried to calm him down, but Joseph also hit him and knocked him to the ground.

One of the neighbors, writes the Sun-Times, warned Joseph that he was armed and instructed him to stop assaulting other people. However, Joseph responded by turning and “charging” at the tenant, who promptly opened fire, hitting Joseph several times and killing him.

Antonio Romanucci, an attorney for Joseph’s family, said that—under Illinois’s use-of-force laws—shooting Joseph did not constitute a proportionate or reasonable response to any perceived threat.

“He was in his socks, bathrobe, and boxer shorts, we know he was unarmed,” Romanucci said.

Romanucci also observed that, at the time of the shooting, police were on their way to the building—and that, even if Joseph had been acting aggressively, leaving him in the hallway would have been a more reasonable response to an apparent “emotional distress event” than shooting him dead.

“It doesn’t matter to our lawsuit at all, because even if there was some sort of physical aggression on Abnerd’s part, what we’re saying is—what you do in that situation, is you step back and you de-escalate and you give time,” Romanucci told the Sun-Times. “Time is your best friend in these situations, even if it means locking everybody down and leaving him alone in the hallway.”

The lawsuit names several defendants, including the tenant who shot Joseph, as well as the building’s owner, security contractor, and property management company.


Family files lawsuit on behalf of assistant principal shot and killed in Chicago high-rise

Family sues over killing of assistant principal in Loop high-rise

Family files wrongful death lawsuit after assistant principal shot by CCL holder in Loop high-rise

Join the conversation!