Chicago cop's family sues Byhalia store, others in fatal shooting

By PATSY R. BRUMFIELD/Daily Journal

OXFORD – A dead Chicago policeman and Iraq war veteran’s parents and sister have sued a north Mississippi pawn shop, its owner and others for what they say was a scheme to sell the firearm that killed him through a straw buyer.
Carolyn Wortham, husband Thomas Wortham II and their daughter, Sandra Wortham of Chicago, Ill., filed a 33-page lawsuit recently in the U.S. District Court in Oxford seeking $3 million in damages from Ed’s Pawn Shop & Salvage Yard, also known as BEA Pawn Shop, at 3165 Highway 309, Byhalia, its owner Bruce Edward Archer of Byhalia, the alleged straw buyer Michael Elliott, federal inmate Quawi Gates and up to 10 “John Doe” gun sellers.
They demand a jury trial.
The defendants have not yet responded.
The Worthams are represented by The Barrett Law Group of Oxford and Lexington, as well as the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence Legal Action Project.
In their lawsuit, the Worthams state that a handgun purchased at Ed’s Pawn Shop on May 25, 2007, was used to kill Thomas Wortham IV when Gangster Disciples members attempted to rob him of his motorcycle in 2010.
The Smith & Wesson .45-caliber handgun, they say, was purchased by Elliott and transferred to Gates for “the criminal market” in Chicago, “where it found its way into the hands of four gang members.”
They say the lawsuit is about the criminal use of guns and that Archer’s shop “negligently, illegally, and knowingly” caused their criminal use in direct violation of federal and state law.
After Officer Wortham’s death, police traced the weapon to the Byhalia store.
The family claims that if the store personnel had followed federal recommendations to determine that Elliott was not the gun’s actual purchaser, they would have determined that Elliott was a straw buyer and declined to sell him any weapons.
The Worthams also want punitive damages to be decided by the jury.
• For more details, read Wednesday’s Daily Journal.