The well-known defense lawyer who earned a victory when the federal government dropped criminal charges against Dr. Cyril Wecht has taken on a new, high-profile case.
This time it's the civil lawsuit against Pennsylvania state Trooper Samuel Nassan, accused, along with Pittsburgh police Sgt. Terrence Donnelly, of killing Nicholas Haniotakis following a police chase early on March 15.
Jerry McDevitt will represent Trooper Nassan against well-known Michigan attorney Geoffrey N. Figer.
The wrongful death lawsuit, brought by the family of Mr. Haniotakis, alleges unlawful used of deadly force.
Both Trooper Nassan and Sgt. Donnelly had been working a DUI task force on the South Side about 2 a.m. March 15 when they tried to pull Mr. Haniotakis, 33, over after he drove his sport-utility vehicle in the wrong lane on 13th Street with a headlight out.
The two officers tried to pull him over, but he nearly broadsided them. They began a chase, and Mr. Haniotakis crashed at 22nd and Wharton streets.
When officers ordered him out of his car, they said, he put it in reverse and hit their unmarked police car and nearly hit Trooper Nassan.
Both men fired shots, but it was a bullet from Trooper Nassan's gun that killed Mr. Haniotakis.
It was the second fatal shooting Trooper Nassan has been involved in.
The state settled a federal civil lawsuit for $12.5 million after a jury returned a $28 million award for the 2002 shooting death of Michael Ellerbe, a 12-year-old boy, who was shot in the back as two troopers chased him after he allegedly stole a car.
Mr. Fieger represented Michael Ellerbe's family in that case.
Yesterday, Mr. McDevitt entered his appearance on behalf of Trooper Nassan and requested an extra 30 days to file the man's response to the lawsuit.