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Mother of Virginia police informant seeks $13M in lawsuit

Posted at 10:01 AM, Feb 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-09 10:01:55-05

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The mother of a dead Virginia police informant is alleging in a pair of lawsuits that authorities are responsible for her son's fatal overdose on opiates that he was coerced to purchase while undercover.

Donna Watson, the administrator of Troy Howlett’s estate, is seeking $10 million in general damages plus $350,000 in punitive damages for what she claims was his wrongful death by Hopewell police because of a fentanyl-laced heroin overdose in July 2018, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Monday. Her complaint also says police and the city’s commonwealth’s attorney knew Howlett was addicted to opiates and that he ingested some of the illegal drugs he was forced to buy as an informant.

A companion lawsuit seeks $3 million in general damages and $350,000 in punitive damages after police gathered on Aug. 3, 2018 at the memorial service for Howlett and arrested and handcuffed his best friend in front of mourners.

Both lawsuits, filed in Chesterfield County Circuit Court, name as defendants the Hopewell Police Department, retired Police Chief John Keohane, Hopewell Commonwealth’s Attorney Richard Newman and ten individual officers.

Newman said he could not comment until he spoke to his attorney. Keohane did not immediately return a message seeking comment.