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Suit on R.I. officer's slaying dismissed

PROVIDENCE -- A federal judge yesterday dismissed the wrongful death lawsuit filed against the city and police department by the mother of slain police Sergeant Cornel Young Jr. The judge based her decision partly on a jury's finding that the supervisory officer involved in Young's death had not violated his civil rights.

US District Court Judge Mary Lisi also found no basis to support the claim that deficient police hiring and training contributed to Young's death. The claim was central to the $20 million lawsuit filed by Young's mother, Leisa.

Leisa Young's attorney, Robert Mann, said his client was disappointed with the ruling and will appeal to the 1st Circuit in Boston. Young, who was black, was off-duty and out of uniform on Jan. 28, 2000, when he emerged from Fidas Restaurant with his gun drawn to help police end a fight. Two white patrolmen, Carlos Saraiva and Michael Solitro, mistook him for a suspect and shot him.

In the first phase of the trial, the all-white jury decided that Solitro, an eight-day rookie, violated Young's civil rights, but Saraiva did not. The two officers had been defendants in the lawsuit, but Leisa Young had decided to remove them before the trial began.

Days into the trial, Lisi dismissed Young's two out-of-state lawyers, saying they had misrepresented some of her earlier statements. One of them was Barry Scheck, who was on the O.J. Simpson defense team.

The decision yesterday angered many in the black community, who have complained of tensions with police since Young's shooting.

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