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Federal court dismisses wrongful death lawsuit filed by Osaze Osagie's family

Osaze Osagie, a 29-year-old State College man, was fatally shot by police on March 20, 2019.
Osagie Family
Osaze Osagie, a 29-year-old State College man, was fatally shot by police on March 20, 2019.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the State College borough and police department in the killing of Osaze Osagie.

In the court’s memorandum, Chief U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann said the court empathizes with the family’s loss, but that they’re not entitled to wrongful death damages.

“The State College Police Department is, as the name suggests, a department of police officers, not mental health professionals,” Brann said.

Osagie’s father contacted police in March 2019 after getting text messages from Osagie, implying he was suicidal. His father said Osagie, a 29-year-old Black man with mental health issues, was likely off his medications.

Police said when they got to the scene, Osagie charged them with a knife. They then shot and killed him.

The legal team representing Osagie’s family said they are “devastated” by the decision, and have not decided whether to file an appeal. The statement also said “The family takes comfort in the love and support of the community and the fact that their response to this son’s death played a role in achieving some measure of change.”

Andrew Shubin

Since the shooting, the State College Police Department hired a social worker to go with officers serving 302 mental health warrants — the same kind used in Osagie’s case.

The State College Borough Council created a community oversight board, but the chair of the board has told Spotlight PA that its powers are limited and it can’t actually discipline officers.

Sydney Roach is a reporter and host for WPSU with a passion for radio and community stories.