In a response to a federal lawsuit filed last month, attorneys representing the city and five Bowling Green Police Department officers say police acted appropriately in a 2012 officer-involved shooting.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, names BGPD Chief Doug Hawkins, Lt. Col. Kevin Wiles, Maj. Melanie Watts, Sgt. Donitka Kay and Officer Keith Casada Jr. as defendants and accuses them of negligence and deliberate indifference toward Gregory Harrison. Casada shot and killed Harrison, 46, on Aug. 12, 2012, on the railroad tracks in the 1100 block of Clay Street. Casada was placed on routine administrative leave following the shooting but was cleared of criminal wrongdoing after a Kentucky State Police investigation. He remains employed with the BGPD.
Bowling Green attorney Scott Laufenberg, representing the city and the five officers, filed a response Monday denying civil claims of wrongdoing brought by Carey Woodcock, administratrix of Harrison’s estate. Woodcock, who is represented by Brownsville attorney Gary Logsdon and Prospect attorney Greg Belzley, claims the use of lethal force against Harrison was unwarranted and unnecessary.
The four-page response that defense attorneys filed on behalf of the police officers and the city counters that the officers acted in good faith and accordance with the law, exercising the degree of force necessary for self-defense and “for the effectuation of a lawful arrest.”
“The defendants further state that all actions were predicated upon probable cause,” Laufenberg stated. Harrison called police early on Aug. 12, 2012, and said he was going to kill his brother. Harrison told city officers he was “in the parking lot with a gun’ ” and also yelled at officers to shoot him, according to a KSP news release. He refused to heed verbal commands from police and kept a hand behind his back prior to being shot once in the upper midsection, according to KSP. Court records show that Harrison was intoxicated and unarmed at the time of the incident.
Defense attorneys on Monday also filed a motion to dismiss claims against the city for punitive damages made by Woodcock, arguing that she has failed to state a claim for punitive damages against the city and citing case law that exempts municipalities from punitive damages claims. Belzley filed a response Tuesday stating he had no objection to the motion to dismiss those claims. — Justin Story covers court news. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jstorydailynews or visit www.bgdailynews.com.