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Family files lawsuit against Collier County Sheriff's Office

Nicolas Morales was killed on September 17, 2020, when deputies responded to the 911 call
Morales lawsuit
Posted at 2:48 PM, Aug 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-11 18:02:40-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The family of a man shot and killed by Collier County Sheriff's (CCSO) deputies in 2020 announced a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office Thursday outside of the Lee County Federal Courthouse.

Migrant farm worker Nicolas Morales was the man deputies fatally shot in Immokalee on September 17, 2020. Deputies were originally responding to reports of a disturbance and a man with a shovel in the Farm Worker Village around 1:00 a.m.

When they arrived, they found Morales with a shovel and garden shears.

Deputies shot Morales after they said he came toward them with the shears. They said they were unsure if the shears were a gun.

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office Professional Responsibility Bureau released an investigative summary and exonerated the deputy who shot Morales.

Thursday, Morales's sons along with family and supporters gathered in front of the courthouse to call on the federal government to get "Justice for Nicolas."

The family of Nicolas Morales is suing the office and the deputies involved for the use of excessive force in what they said was an "unjustified shooting death and sham investigation" by the department and state attorney's office.

The state attorney's office ruled in February that the force was legal and justified. However, the loved ones of Morales disagree and said they have not been heard and have not received justice.

"They didn't know Nicolas had a strong family behind him. They didn't know we were going to fight back like this," said Jesus Andrade, Morales's oldest son.

This is a fight the family of Morales is ready to take to federal court.

"We just want to see some change and reform in the Collier County system because they are just trampling all over us and we’re tired," Andrade said.

Morales's youngest son was extremely emotional as he called for justice for his father.

"I hope the Collier County Sheriff’s department can see what they did," cried Morales's youngest son.

The dash cam video from that morning shows what happened when deputies responded to the area. It shows the deputies approaching Morales and ordering him to get on the ground. He was later fatally shot.

“Justice has not been served. We have called on the sheriff a number of times to hold accountable the officers who killed Nicolas Morales," stated one supporter.

State attorney's office's response
State Attorney's Office response to dash came of Nicolas Morales shooting

Around 30 supporters gathered outside of the Lee County federal courthouse with signs reading "demanding accountability," "demanding health response teams," and "justice for Nicolas."

“People who are enduring mental health crises are entitled under the constitution to be treated like a human being,” said Chris Lomax, one of the family's attorneys.

“It ain’t Collier County against Collier County now. It’s Collier County against federal court now,” Andrade said.

We reached out to CCSO for an interview. They sent this statement in response:

We cannot comment on pending litigation. We can tell you that a death investigation, an independent review by the State Attorney’s Office and an investigation by our Professional Responsibility Bureau all determined that the deputies’ actions were justifiable and were within both policy and the law.

Collier County Sheriff Department

Click here to read the State Attorney's full response.