Family of man shot by police to file lawsuit

January 13, 2010 4:56:24 PM PST
The family of a man who was shot and killed by Franklin Park police plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the police department.Officers said they were forced to fire when Dan Mojziszek tried to run them over with his car. His family and some witnesses say police overreacted.

In 1999, Dan Mojziszek was a musician and music teacher. It wasn't long after that his family says he became consumed by his ongoing mental health and legal problems.

Mojziszek was convicted numerous times for motor vehicle offenses including driving on a license that was revoked nearly 20 years ago, driving drunk and fleeing police. He went to jail nearly a half dozen times.

His ex-wife Patty says Mojziszek was diagnosed after their marriage with bi-polar disorder but tried to be a good father to their son, Bryan.

"I know my son and I lost him 10 years ago. He wasn't the same but he was a good man. He was well respected," said Patty Mojziszek.

Mojziszek was shot to death Monday evening by Franklin Park police. They say they followed him for a few miles through several towns on a slow speed chase because he was driving erratically and that he tried to hit their squad cars and ignored their verbal commands.

After police forced Mojziszek's car to stop and surrounded it, they say he put his car in gear. That's when officers opened fire.

"I kept asking, 'why couldn't you just shoot the tires? Why did you have to shoot him,'" said Mojziszek.

"Should he have been behind the wheel? Absolutely not. But the punishment of shooting him, the alleged danger or the perception by police I do not buy," said Frank Avila, attorney.

Avila is representing the Mojziszeks and plans on filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

Barrett Pedersen, mayor of Franklin Park, says Mojziszek had violent run-ins with police in the past and disputes the allegations in the lawsuit.

"I believe that the protocol followed by my officers here in Franklin Park and the officers in surrounding communities was appropriate given the circumstances and the threat to public safety," said Pedersen.

The Mojziszek family attorney says he plans to file the multi-million dollar lawsuit within 30 days. But he hopes to reach settlements with the parties involved.