Suspect's wrongful death case may go to jury trial

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Government representatives in Ohio are attempting to deter a fair jury trial for the officers accused of wrongfully shooting a man in 2010.

The wrongful death suit was filed in October 2010 by the man’s relatives. The family is seeking $20 million in damages from Sandusky County, the county sheriff and two sheriff’s deputies.

The man was shot during an altercation in July of that year. He had engaged in a standoff with police, according to official reports. Officers had arrived at the man’s residence after his father notified authorities, saying that the man intended to harm his parents and had been drinking. The two deputies named in the suit fired the bullets that killed the man, effectively ending the standoff.

Despite objections from county officials in March, a U.S. District Court judge reversed a previous ruling that would have errantly thrown out all charges against the county officials and employees.

Attorneys for the city said they have sought out errors in the judge’s decision and they plan to appeal the decision. County attorneys announced on April 2 that they intend to pursue further legal action in the case.

The County Attorney’s office has failed to publicly itemize the supposed errors in the judge’s decision, saying only that he applied an inappropriate legal standard. Those attorneys allege that the judge misinterpreted facts, considered incorrect evidence and analyzed the case inappropriately.

A trial date of July 26 has been set by county officials. The case will likely proceed in trial court unless the county can prove that the judge used improper legal protocol. The appeal will be heard in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

A jury trial would allow the case to be heard by an impartial group of citizens. This would prevent a ruling from being handed down by a judge and a jury trial may improve the family’s chances of recovering damages from government entities in the case.

Source: The News-Messenger, “Sandusky County objects to Jones trial,” Mark Tower, April 4, 2012