Morgan & Morgan attorneys Belvin Perry and Matt Morgan will represent the family of Fednel Rhinvil, a 25-year-old Maryland man who was shot and killed by a Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office deputy. The attorneys are looking into filing a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Rhinvil, who they believe died under suspicious circumstances at the hands of police on March 3, 2015.
“We are in the very initial stages in our investigation, and we have very significant questions that need answers,” Morgan said.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Maryland State Police received reports of threats made by unknown individuals to “shoot up” a house one block over from where Rhinvil and another man were reportedly stopped by law enforcement around 1:45 a.m. While the other man stopped, Rhinvil reportedly kept walking and then began to run from police. According to a police statement, after Rhinvil fled and tried to scale a fence, “a fight ensued and the deputy was pinned on the ground on his back.” While the deputy was pinned to the ground, investigators were told, he allegedly saw Rhinvil reach for a handgun in his pocket, at which time the 14-year veteran officer shot Rhinvil.
Perry, the former Orange-Osceola Chief Judge, said the reason he and Morgan took on the case is to find out what exactly happened the night Rhinvil was killed by police.
“The major motivation for taking on this case is to seek the truth concerning the death of Mr. Rhinvil,” Perry said. “The family of Mr. Rhinvil is seeking justice and the truth surrounding the events leading to the death of their loved one.”
Rhinvil was pronounced dead on the scene, allegedly with a loaded and cocked revolver on his person. The officer who shot Rhinvil has reportedly been placed on routine administrative leave while the matter is investigated.
Rhinvil’s family’s lawsuit looks specifically to investigate what happened before and while Deputy First Class Benjamin Jones was allegedly pinned to the ground.
“They want to know why the deputy felt it necessary to give chase to Mr. Rhinvil when he simply left the area where the deputy has asked him to stop. What crime had Mr. Rhinvil committed when the deputy felt compelled to give chase?” Perry asked. “In short, what was his motivation for going after Mr. Rhinvil at that time as opposed to detaining the gentleman he had at the time?”
Another major part of Morgan & Morgan’s investigation, Morgan said, will be determining the ownership history of the gun allegedly in his client’s possession at the time of his death. Finally, Morgan said he and Perry will investigate the deputy’s personnel file and reputation in the community, as well as attempt to secure video footage of the incident.
“We will be investigating the facts surrounding the deputy’s account that our client, while having the deputy pinned to the ground, retrieved a gun from his pocket, but yet and still, the deputy was able to unholster, pull and fire his gun while allegedly being pinned to the ground by our client,” Morgan said.