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Civil rights violations alleged in case against Kansas troopers

Juries in Pittsburg civil cases sometimes have sensitive issues to consider while deciding the outcome of a liability case. A reputation of public service accompanies a police officer into a courtroom, whether the law enforcer is a plaintiff or a defendant. The occupation may have everything to do with the individual's behavior and the verdict.

A wrongful death lawsuit was recently filed against three Kansas state troopers for their roles in the death of the plaintiffs' male relative. The complaint was filed almost two years to the day from the time the defendants, in the line of duty, shot and killed the man.

The troopers responded to the report of a suspicious person walking and running near a Delphos agricultural co-op. A pair of co-op employees noticed the man, carrying what appeared to be a case for a pool cue. The stranger walked and then ran away from a worker who tried to approach him. The landowner had no better luck trying to talk with the man.

The trio of troopers armed with assault rifles arrived, after county and state police were called. Troopers apparently discussed a strategy for shooting the man. Witnesses said they did not see a gunfire exchange, but heard troopers order the man to "come out." Three shots rang out - a shotgun blast followed by two from an assault rifle.

The stranger was hit and cried out. The injured man fell after being handcuffed and died at the scene. State investigators last year cleared the troopers of any improper actions.

Plaintiffs have asked for a minimum of $225,000 in compensation for the officers' alleged civil rights violations - the alleged use of excessive force and unreasonable seizure. The interpretation of "reasonable" behavior is critical to a liability case. Negligence is an action or inaction that is unreasonable when compared to what an average person would do in the same circumstances.

Source: salina.com, "Wrongful death alleged in civil suit" Tim Unruh, Oct. 26, 2013

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