Skip to comments.Officers cleared in shooting
Posted on 04/29/2005 9:25:57 PM PDT by SmithL
The family of a 19-year-old man shot to death by a Knoxville police officer is considering whether it will appeal a judge's ruling that officers were not at fault in the 2003 incident.
Knox County Circuit Judge Dale Workman issued his decision this week in a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by Tanya Gillispie, the mother of Sean Gillispie.
Young Gillispie died May 18, 2003, when Knoxville Police Department officer Jason Keck shot him after he saw Gillispie, according to Keck's testimony, bringing a gun up.
At the time Gillispie was in the backseat of a parked car in the Weigel's parking lot on Summit Hill Drive.
Neither side disputed there was a gun on the seat with Gillispie.
But Tanya Gillispie's lawsuit contended that her son actually had a cell phone, not a gun, in his hand when he was shot and that negligence on the part of Keck and fellow KPD officer David Ogle caused Sean Gillispie's death.
"It's been very difficult for the family to go through this whole process," the family's attorney, Philip Lomonaco, said Friday. "But at this point they are making a determination whether they want the (state) Court of Appeals to make its own decision on the facts."
Lomonaco was disappointed with Workman's decision and said it didn't address what he contends were negligent actions on the part of Ogle that led to the shooting.
"Without finding whether Officer Ogle was or was not negligent under the facts of the case," the judge wrote, "the court finds that any actions of Officer Ogle were not a cause in fact of Sean Gillispie's death and therefore cannot be a basis of any recovery by the plaintiff."
Robert Watson, who represented Knoxville, said he was pleased with Workman's ruling but that it was a tragic case for everyone involved.
"I feel a great deal of compassion for Jason Keck (and his family) and a great deal of compassion for Sean Gillispie's family and for Sean Gillispie," he said. "It was an event that shouldn't have happened. He (Gillispie) was intoxicated and was carrying a loaded gun and things just happened."
The incident occurred during the early morning hours of a Sunday when Keck and Ogle responded to a call about an unruly crowd.
Ogle, talking to the driver of the car Gillispie was in, noticed the gun on the backseat, drew his weapon and ordered Gillispie to drop it.
Keck drew his pistol and stepped to the driver's side while Ogle started around the back of the car. Keck testified he saw Gillispie's hands moving before coming up with a gun.
Keck fired one shot, and it went through Gillispie's heart.
The dying man managed to open his door and tumbled into the parking lot with, according to one witness, a cell phone in his hand.
The family found the bloody cell phone when they retrieved his belongings. It had been in the same bag as his clothes, according to court documents.
Workman wrote that Tanya Gillispie failed to establish that the officers were negligent and Keck was the only witness who saw the actions in the car.
The judge wrote he would have to infer Gillispie had a cell phone and not a gun in his hand to find for the plaintiff.
"Of course to make such inference the court would have to totally disregard the only direct evidence and speculate the existence of a series of events," he wrote.
He wrote there was "no credible evidence to contradict Officer Keck's testimony" about what happened.
One less maggot to worry about. On behalf of the gene pool, thanks go to Officer Keck.
How does one shot with a bullet through the heart have time to switch from a gun to a cell phone in hand? If the witness who saw the phone is telling the truth, I would not believe that Gillispie raised the gun.
I will not excuse your bellicosity in this case. A boy should not die for being unwise.
Maybe it was an HK and he was making a call, "come in Berlin".
Here you are again. Blame the cops first huh redneck? It doesn't matter that there was no credible evidence that contradicted his testimony as far as you are concerned does it?
Bellicosity, this is HiTechRedNeck's thing, to find fault with the police.
There's 'unwise' and then there's stupidity of Darwinian magnitude. This case falls in the latter category. And a 19-yr-old is no 'boy'.
Tragic story. But not as tragic as those stories where the slime ball does come up with a gun and kills a good cop. Those stories really break your heart.
yeah , thank you ,...its something I tell my kids about[over and over] you can put yourself in all sorts of good and bad situations
In other words the lawyer will gladly take some more of their cash on this long shot case. What makes it a long shot is there's no sympathetic wheelchair victim to roll out in front of a jury. Had he lived, taxpayers would much more likely have been out $10 million.
A side-effect of our current legal system is that police are trained to not fire a warning shot and always aim to kill. The cop probably broke protocol by stopping at only one shot.
Our legal lotto system is largely to blame why cops are now so quick to kill.
When you're pulled over by the cops, your conduct decides how it's going to go.
I've seen stories where the cops have really screwed up egregiously and I've done plenty of bitching about police conduct on other threads. I'm just not seeing that here.
The cop had every legal right to protect himself.
I am tired of people always taking the side of the perp. Cops are constantly in the cross hairs. They risk their lives daily for us.
Yep. We can argue all day about what the cop saw and whether he should have shot. That fact is, the kid never should have been in that situation in the first place. If you're in a situation where there is a gun on the car seat next to you and a cop has you at gunpoint hollering at you to put your hands up, you made a whole chain of bad decisions to get to that point.
Besides, the officer could've simply shot the cell phone out of the kid's hand, right?