Court dismisses wrongful death lawsuit against LMPD officer who shot a man eight times

By Joe Dyton | Oct 28, 2016

LOUISVILLE — United States District Court Judge Charles Simpson III recently dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit filed against a Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) officer who allegedly fatally shot a 28-year-old man in 2014.

The officer, Marc Christiansen, reportedly shot and killed John Jolley Jr. Police reports indicate Jolley was holding a gun when Christiansen shot him eight times. Ladonna Hamilton, Jolley’s fiancée, and his family filed the lawsuit in 2014.

According to police reports, Jolley was shot after Christiansen responded to a domestic disturbance call in the 900 block of Esquire Alley. Hamilton was holding a one-year-old child and Jolley allegedly grabbed a gun from the hood of his vehicle and loaded it, according to court records. Christiansen shot him and Jolley died at the scene.

Jolley’s family’s suit alleged the officer used “unwarranted lethal force” and argued that Jolley wasn’t armed or posed a threat. The lawsuit said when Christiansen arrived, Jolly was going to his car with a gun inside its case and placed it on the hood. Jolley then approached the officer to let him know he was unarmed when Christiansen shot him, according to the lawsuit.

“Evidence in cases like this include the testimony of the officer and any witnesses, but can also include scientific evidence that can show how close the shooter was and what angle the shooter had,” Loyola University New Orleans law professor Bill Quigley told the Louisiana Record. “Evidence of other similar shootings are likewise important." 

At the time he was shot, Jolley was "fully cooperating with whatever directives were given to him" by the officer, according to the lawsuit. Court records state that "no effort was made by Officer Christiansen to investigate the situation, consider lesser force alternatives or consult with Mr. Jolley or Ms. Hamilton prior to firing.”

The case was dismissed because, according to court records, Hamilton stopped participating in the lawsuit. She ignored deposition requests, court records indicate, and since she was the only eyewitness, the case couldn’t continue lawyers concluded. Simpson ordered both sides to pay their own costs and attorney fees after the dismissal.

“Courts are not interested in going forward with cases unless all the people involved are ready willing and able to work on the case,” Quigley said. “In this case, it looks like there was a change of heart and the court was unwilling to push the case forward.”

The LMPD cleared Christiansen of any wrongdoing in late 2015. With Simpson’s dismissal, the chances of this suit going forward again are highly unlikely, Quigley said.

“This case is over and could not be restarted anew because the time for filing suit has likely already passed,” Quigley said.

Hamilton’s attorney could not be reached for comment.

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