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Court dismisses claims of federal rights violations in suit against Hammond officers regarding police shooting

Lawsuits

By Carrie Salls | Dec 19, 2018


NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana recently dismissed claims that Hammond police officers violated the constitutional rights of a man who was arrested after being shot by officers in 2016.

In a Dec. 10 ruling, U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey granted the summary judgment motion filed by Hammond Police Sgt. Thomas Mushinsky, Officer Devin Milazzo and Officer Leonel Gonzales regarding the lawsuit filed by Leroy Johnson, who claims his rights were violated.

The officers asked the court to rule in their favor and dismiss the claims filed by Johnson, “arguing that qualified immunity applies and bars all claims,” court filings said.

In his lawsuit, Johnson alleged that on Dec. 10, 2016, the defendants “surrounded his vehicle without justification while he was parked in a relative’s driveway and ordered him from the vehicle at gunpoint.”

When Johnson tried to flee, he was shot by the defendants in the head, shoulder and leg and subsequently taken into custody, court filings said.

In his suit, Johnson also alleged the officers “attempted to cover up their unauthorized use of excessive force” following his arrest.

“Johnson contends that Sgt. Thomas Mushinsky, Officer Devin Milazzo and Officer Leonel Gonzales violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from the use of excessive force,” the filings  said. “Johnson also alleges a state law battery claim against the defendant officers.”

According to court filings, the officers were in the area looking for two suspects who had fled from a stolen vehicle during a traffic stop. Shell casing reportedly had been found in the stolen vehicle, the filings said.

Zainey granted the summary judgment motion filed by the defendants, dismissing Johnson’s federal claims.

“Johnson was non-compliant with the officers’ instructions and he was affirmatively combative with them when he suddenly and without warning put the car in drive and revved the engine as he accelerated to the left, where Mushinsky was standing,” the court order said.

Zainey said, regardless of the reason that Johnson decided to move the car, the officers’ assumption that Mushinsky was in danger was reasonable.

“Johnson has failed to create an issue of fact that his constitutional rights were violated by the use of potentially deadly force,” Zainey said in the order.

The judge said Johnson’s state law claims were also dismissed because the district court did not have jurisdiction over them.

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