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Court: Little Rock woman can’t sue city for son’s slaying

February 8, 2019
FILE - In this June 21, 2013 file photo, former Little Rock Police Officer Josh Hastings listens to testimony in his manslaughter trial at the Pulaski County Courthouse in Little Rock, Ark. A federal appeals court has ruled that a Little Rock woman whose 15-year-old son was killed by Hastings cannot try to hold the city or a retired police chief accountable for the shooting. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that a federal court in St. Louis upheld a decision Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, that dismissed Little Rock and Stuart Thomas from Sylvia Perkins' wrongful death lawsuit. Thomas was police chief when Perkins' son, Bobby Moore, was killed by Joshua Hastings in 2012. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A Little Rock woman whose 15-year-old son was fatally shot by a police officer cannot try to hold the city or a retired police chief accountable in her wrongful death lawsuit, a federal appeals court ruled.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis on Thursday upheld a decision that dismissed the city of Little Rock and Stuart Thomas as defendants in Sylvia Perkins’ lawsuit, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Thomas was police chief in 2012 when Officer Joshua Hastings shot into a car being driven by Perkins’ son, Bobby Moore, killing the teen in a parking lot outside a Little Rock apartment complex.

Hastings was fired and charged with manslaughter in Moore’s death, but he wasn’t convicted. Hastings was ordered to pay Perkins $415,000 in damages, plus lawyers’ costs of an additional $382,585, after the jury found he violated Moore’s civil rights.

Perkins’ attorney, Mike Laux, said the mother hasn’t received any money. Hastings filed for bankruptcy last March.

Laux said he has filed a lawsuit in bankruptcy court in attempt to collect some of Perkins’ money.

Laux had argued that the city should be liable for maintaining a “widespread custom of excessive force and untruthfulness,” and for failing to properly train and supervise officers. Laux also said Thomas should be held liable for hiring Hastings and for retaining him on the force after numerous complaints were filed against him.

The appeals court agreed with a judge in 2017 who found that Perkins didn’t sufficiently prove a pattern of excessive force or deliberate indifference to constitutional violations by officers.

John Wilkerson, an attorney for the Arkansas Municipal League who represented the city and Thomas, declined to comment on Thursday’s ruling.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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