Federal lawsuit in 'in-custody suicide' thrown out

Federal lawsuit in "in-custody suicide" thrown out
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A federal civil rights lawsuit over the death of a man who shot himself in the head while in a Jonesboro police car with his hands cuffed behind him has been dismissed.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker on Friday granted summary judgment to the city of Jonesboro, two police officers and a former police chief on five of six claims.

Baker said a claim of unreasonable search and seizure wasn't addressed in motions and gave both sides seven days to cite any pending claim on that issue.

The lawsuit was filed by Teresa Rudd after her 21-year-old son, Chavis Carter, shot himself after being arrested following a traffic stop and after being searched by an officer who failed to find Carter's gun.

According to the summary judgment, Rudd said the two arresting officers violated Carter's fourth, fifth, eighth and fourteenth rights.  She also said that the city and former Chief Yates should be liable for failure to train those officers, negligence and wrongful death.

In the lawsuit, Rudd conceded that Carter did bring the gun into the police car and shoot himself, but she claims that the officers should have searched him more thoroughly and found the gun before he could hurt himself.

An internal investigation also stated that the officers should have found the gun and said they did not actually touch Carter during the search except on the back of the arms. It also said "a search of the backseat would have been warranted and preferable, but that was not done."

The judge ruled, though, that there are no facts that Carter exhibited suicidal tendencies so the officers did not act with "deliberate indifference" to his life, as Rudd claimed.

Therefore, the city and chief cannot be held liable for failure to train officers since the claims against those officers were dropped.

Attached below is the full opinion of the judge.

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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