REDDING - The family of a black attorney who died following a car accident in Redding is suing the town and the police department, claiming they covered up the details of his death and wrongly ruled it a suicide.
Abe Dabela crashed his car on a windy stretch of road two years ago. Within hours of the crash, Redding police said it appeared that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The state medical examiner agreed, albeit six months later. But now, Dabela's family insists in a federal lawsuit that Redding investigators missed or simply ignored clues that his death could be a homicide.
"Why did the Redding Police Department so badly want to call this a suicide?" asks Solomon Radner, the Dabela family's attorney. "There's so much evidence that this was not a suicide. There's so much evidence that this was a murder."
That evidence, according to the lawsuit, includes someone else's DNA on the trigger of Dabela's gun found inside the crashed car. It also says that ballistics tests show a bullet found at the scene likely came from another gun. The suit goes on to allege that Dabela's jacket did not have any gunshot residue on it, and that investigators found hair belonging to someone else inside the car.
Redding Police Chief Douglas Fuchs says he cannot comment the specifics of the suit, but after a meeting with Dabela's family last summer, he insists that his department thoroughly investigated the case.
The lawsuit alleges that Redding police rushed to judgment in the case because Dabela is black. Police say the medical examiner ruled his death a suicide, not them.