Family of teen shot outside St. Paul rec center seeks to hold city liable for employing shooter

The mother of a teen who was shot in the head last year outside a St. Paul recreation center is now suing the city for employing the shooter even though he had a history of complaints.

The lawsuit filed in federal district court alleges Exavir Binford Jr. violated then-16-year-old JuVaughn Turner’s civil rights when he shot Turner in the head on Jan. 18, 2023, outside Jimmy Lee Recreation Center.

The filing also claims the city did not adequately discipline Binford for a past assault and later failed not to investigate a separate complaint of Binford threatening to shoot a rec center visitor.

In December 2019, the city suspended Binford for five days after he punched a visitor at Arlington Hills Community Center. Binford did not receive any deescalation training after the fact, and in August 2022, he transferred to Jimmy Lee Rec Center, where he was promoted to community relations specialist, the lawsuit states.

A few months before the shooting, in October 2022, Binford allegedly threatened to shoot a 17-year-old girl and her friends, saying, “I will Swiss cheese y’all.” The girl’s mother filed a complaint with the city, but the lawsuit claims she never received a response and the city did not initiate an investigation.

St. Paul city spokesman Kamal Baker said the city is reviewing the complaint.

The family claims Binford violated Turner’s Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive and deadly force while “acting under color of City law, as the City’s agent” as a manager of Jimmy Lee Rec Center. The lawsuit also accuses Binford of assault and battery resulting in permanent harm.

Turner’s family is seeking compensation for medical bills and damages.

Binford has already pleaded guilty to first-degree assault in the case, and his sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 9. Prosecutors have requested an aggravated sentence of more than 10 years.