Lawsuit: Ohio police shooting of black man wasn't justified
By KANTELE FRANKO
Jul. 20, 2017
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A lawsuit alleges Ohio police shot and mortally wounded a black man without justification and then conspired to provide misleading information about the July 7 confrontation.
Columbus police say two officers spotted 30-year-old Kareem Ali Nadir Jones walking between cars and behaving erratically that evening. Police say they fired when his behavior escalated and they perceived a threat from Jones, who had a gun.
The federal civil rights lawsuit filed Thursday by his sister, Marica Phipps, alleges that Jones presented no threat and that Officers Samuel James and Marc Johnson repeatedly fired "without cause or provocation" and violated Jones' constitutional rights.
"It's our contention that these two officers executed Kareem Jones," said Andrew Stroth, one of Phipps' attorneys.
Police body camera video appears to show Jones with his hands up backing away from police who have guns drawn. Jones appears to reach for a gun in his waistband before he is shot.
Phipps has said she thinks Jones was trying to toss the gun. He died three days later.
Police say witnesses reported that Jones didn't follow officers' commands to get on the ground. They say a stolen 9mm handgun was recovered at the scene.
Jason Pappas, the president of the local police union representing the officers, called the lawsuit's allegations baseless and said police are trained to draw their firearms when a suspect is armed.
"There's no question here that what they did was absolutely appropriate and in compliance with their training and the law," he said.
The lawsuit also alleges that the city is liable for Jones' death and that Columbus police have practices and policies that allow for or encourage unreasonable force, despite a previous U.S. Justice Department lawsuit against Columbus over its use-of-force practices nearly two decades ago. The Justice Department dropped that matter in 2002 after concluding Columbus had made policy changes to help curb racial profiling and excessive force by police.
The mayor's office said the city can't comment on pending litigation.
Phipps' lawsuit seeks an order to block city policies and practices found to encourage use of unreasonable force. It also seeks an unspecified amount in damages.
Associated Press reporter Mark Gillispie in Cleveland contributed to this report.