Lawsuit filed against gunmaker 2 years after teen's death

by: Sarah Rosario Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The family of a teen who police said was shot and killed by a stray bullet is now suing the gunmaker.

Channel 9 has been reporting on the investigation into Jasmine Thar's death for the past two years.

On Monday, the attorney for the Thar family and for two other victims hit by the same bullet that killed Thar spoke to Eyewitness News about why they say the manufacturer is to blame.

"They're having problems with that rifle all over the country. We're going to bring about change. We're going to make a difference," said attorney Willie Gary.

On Dec. 23 of this year it will be two years since the 16-year-old died.

Her family members gathered Monday outside the Mecklenburg County Court House with a new purpose.

"I, like the rest of this family, want to ensure that this never happens to anybody else," said grandfather Bernie Coaxum. 

With the help of the prominent attorney from Florida, the family announced a $150 million lawsuit against the gunmaker.  

"We feel like they are responsible," said Gary.

The Charlotte teen died while visiting family in Eastern North Carolina for Christmas in 2011.

Investigators said she was hit by a bullet from a neighbor's rifle that accidentally went off while he was cleaning it.

Thar's godmother, Traka McMillian, and her best friend Jah'mesha McMillian, were also hit by the same bullet. 

The lawsuit claims the Remington 700 series rifle has a flawed trigger mechanism.

It was filed in state court in the Mecklenburg County courthouse Monday morning. It claims the Remington gun misfired and also said the company was negligent in making it.

 "They have for a long time gotten away with having a bad product on the market," said Gary. 

Gary is no stranger to big corporations. He's known as the giant killer for winning cases against one of the world's largest funeral chains and the Walt Disney Corporation. He offered to help the family after the shooting was ruled an accident.

In April, Eyewitness News first reported about other lawsuits claiming the Remington 700 could fire without someone pulling the trigger, but the company insists the gun is reliable.

At first, the family believed the neighbor shot Thar intentionally.

On Monday, they said they don't hold the shooter responsible, but said they want the company to pay.

 "The lawsuit is a means to an end. To try to get some sort of accountability and make sure no other family has to experience this," said Coaxum

Channel 9 made several attempts to reach the company Monday, but never heard back by news time.

Family members said there are plans in the works for the anniversary of Thar’s death on Dec. 23, but haven't announced what they are.

Related stories:

April 22, 2013: DA says no charges to be filed in Jasmine Thar case

Dec. 26, 2011: Teen killed in gun accident while on Christmas break