By Corinne Murdock |
The city of Phoenix paid out $1 million to a mother after two adult brothers were shot and killed during a violent domestic dispute in which police responded. The council agreed to the settlement on Monday, which was originally agreed upon in court on May 18.
In October 2020, police responded to a domestic dispute call placed by Lillian Cocreham, the mother of George Cocreham, 43, and Emmett Cocreham, 44. The mother said that her two sons were engaged in a verbal altercation, that one of her sons had a rifle, and that both men would attempt to attack the officers. She also advised the 911 operator that the police had come to her residence multiple times before due to her sons.
The mother alleged to the 911 operator that she initially called the crisis response line, but hung up after 45 minutes of no response. The mother also said she was afraid her elder son, Emmett, would kill her.
“I am fearful for my life,” said the mother. “I’m barricaded in my bedroom. I’m afraid my son Emmett will beat me up and kill me.”
Upon responding to the Cocreham residence, police reported that they saw one of the brothers holding a rifle despite orders to drop it. Police fired after the brother holding the rifle, George, raised and pointed it at Emmett. Police reported that in pointing the gun at Emmett, George was also pointing the gun in the direction of responding officers.
The brothers repeatedly ignored officers’ commands throughout the entire interaction.
The day after the shooting, an uncle of the Cocreham brothers told ABC15 he didn’t blame the officers because the brothers had a history of family violence, some of which warranted prior police response to the house.
Cocreham filed a $12 million notice of claim in April 2021, alleging that police had wrongfully killed her two sons and issued $10,000 in damage and repairs to her property. The claim alleged that police failed to defuse the situation, didn’t provide evidence that the brothers were armed or fired their weapons, and didn’t provide timely medical care to the brothers after they were shot.
“The two deaths resulted directly from the supervising officers’ failure to gain command and control of the scene and of a non-combative situation well within their grasp,” stated the claim. “[The officers] individually and collectively inflamed a domestic disturbance call into an unacceptably chaotic situation.”
Cocreham sued the city later that year in the Arizona District Court.
In an interview concerning the settlement, Cocreham said that she was still working to recover over the damage her home sustained.
“It cost the city money, it cost taxpayers money, it cost the victims money, but it cost you your soul,” said Cocreham. “They’ll try to bring you down as much as you can, they can and they love it, but you know what? You didn’t win this time, because I didn’t lose my boys.”