Fam­ily of man slain by LR of­fi­cer files law­suit

The Saline Courier - - FRONT PAGE - As­so­ci­ated Press

LIT­TLE ROCK — The fam­ily of a man shot and killed by a Lit­tle Rock po­lice of­fi­cer work­ing off-duty out­side a bar filed a fed­eral law­suit on Mon­day, claim­ing the of­fi­cer used ex­ces­sive force and that the man’s death was caused by the city’s fail­ure to prop­erly train its law en­force­ment.

At­tor­neys for the fam­ily of 28-year-old James Harts­field filed the law­suit against the city, the of­fi­cer and the night club. Harts­field was fa­tally shot by Of­fi­cer Brit­tany

Gunn in Oc­to­ber 2017 as he sped to­ward a brick wall with her in­side the ve­hi­cle. Harts­field and Gunn, who was work­ing off-duty at the Lo­cal Union bar at the time, were both black. Harts­field was a driver for Lyft and was pick­ing up a pas­sen­ger from the bar.

“This is just a ter­ri­ble, ter­ri­ble sit­u­a­tion here, one that was pre­dictable, one that was pre­ventable,” Mike Laux, the fam­ily’s at­tor­ney, said at a news con­fer­ence with mem­bers of Harts­field’s fam­ily.

City At­tor­ney Tom Car­pen­ter said he had not seen the law­suit and did not have any com­ment, and a spokesman for the po­lice depart­ment de­clined to com­ment on the suit. The owner of Lo­cal Union, the bar named in the law­suit, did not im­me­di­ately re­turn a call seek­ing com­ment.

Pros­e­cu­tors last year cleared Gunn of crim­i­nal wrong­do­ing in the fa­tal shoot­ing. The of­fi­cer also wasn’t dis­ci­plined and didn’t un­dergo any ad­di­tional train­ing fol­low­ing the shoot­ing, ac­cord­ing to the law­suit.

Po­lice at the time of the shoot­ing said that Gunn saw Harts­field drink from what ap­peared to be a bot­tle of liquor while driv­ing. Gunn and an­other of­fi­cer tried to re­move Harts­field from the ve­hi­cle when he sped off, po­lice said. Both of­fi­cers were treated at a hospi­tal for mul­ti­ple abra­sions and con­tu­sions. The law­suit, how­ever, said that no bot­tle was ever col­lected or tested for fin­ger­print or DNA ev­i­dence by Lit­tle Rock po­lice, and that Gunn had no le­gal au­thor­ity to en­ter his car prior to the shoot­ing.

The law­suit claims the shoot­ing demon­strated the city’s fail­ure to train its of­fi­cers prop­erly. The suit was filed a week af­ter Lit­tle rock po­lice fired a white of­fi­cer who killed a black mo­torist when he shot at least 15 times through the mov­ing car’s wind­shield. Pros­e­cu­tors last month de­clined to file charges against Of­fi­cer Charles Starks in the Fe­bru­ary shoot­ing of Bradley Black­shire.

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