And that's not the only suit looming over the so-called Bronx Four. When the Diallos filed the civil charges Tuesday, it wasn't a sign they were calling off their campaign for a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting. Justice Department officials continue to "consider" the family's repeated requests for a central review, though they warn that prosecuting the officers under federal civil rights law could prove extremely difficult. "Criminal cases and civil cases can coexist," explains TIME legal reporter Alain Sanders. "The family obviously feels there's been a miscarriage of justice, so they're attacking from two fronts at once." It's hard to imagine what the Diallos must think of this distinctly American path to justice: Their son's killers were acquitted, a federal case remains in the balance yet the Diallos stand to possibly collect a considerable fortune from a police department that stridently maintains its innocence.
When four white New York City undercover officers were acquitted in February of charges that they murdered African immigrant Amadou Diallo, they may have hoped their legal troubles were over. In fact, they may just be beginning. On Tuesday, Diallo's parents filed civil charges against the policemen and the city. It's a hefty suit, complete with symbolism-laden monetary demands: Kadiatou and Saikou Diallo are asking $20 million in damages and $41 million for pain and suffering one million dollars for every bullet fired on their unarmed son.