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  1. #1
    Sheriff's Avatar
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    $50,350,000 Lawsuit

    http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet...=1045855934842

    I can't figure out what happened here, no matter how many times I read it. Why did the cop jump in the car?

    Family sues city, 2 police officers
    Relatives of man shot to death by police file $50 million lawsuit


    Jun 2, 2006

    Richmond, Virginia -- The family of a South Richmond man fatally shot by police two years ago has filed a $50 million lawsuit against the city and the two officers who fired the shots.

    Santanna Bryant Olavarria was shot to death in his car May 29, 2004, by Richmond officer Michael Couture and his rookie partner, Edward Aeschlimann. The fatal encounter occurred during a nighttime traffic stop near the corner of Fairfield Way and Mechanicsville Turnpike in the city's East End.

    Couture, who resigned from the department last summer, said he jumped into Olavarria's car when it began to move forward as he struggled with Olavarria to remove him from the vehicle.

    On his back in the passenger seat of the 21-year-old's car, Couture, 31, said he fired at Olavarria because he feared for his life.

    The lawsuit, filed by David Epperly in Richmond Circuit Court, contends Couture fired without warning, and "despite the fact that Olavarria had his hands up and said, 'Don't.'"

    Hearing the shot -- and knowing Olavarria had a gun in his car -- Aeschlimann said he feared for his partner's life. He fired four times into the vehicle from behind, striking Olavarria three times. An autopsy determined both men fired a shot that could be considered fatal.

    Epperly's filing alleges the officers' actions were grossly negligent and "constituted an utter disregard of caution amounting to complete neglect of the safety of another person, specifically, Olavarria."

    The suit contends Olavarria had committed no known arrestable offense, was not told why he had been stopped and never struck Couture. After the shooting, police said Olavarria, a star semipro football player with the Richmond Ravens, had been pulled over for running a stop sign.

    Couture and Aeschlimann exhibited willful and wanton negligence and "acted consciously in disregard of Olavarria's rights, or with reckless indifference into the consequences," the suit charges.

    The suit also contends the city of Richmond breached its duty to exercise "reasonable care in equipping and training its police officers in the use of force, in the stopping of motor vehicles, in the discharge of firearms and in general, proper police procedures and arrests."

    Epperly's lawsuit seeks $50 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages, claiming the family sustained sorrow, mental anguish and funeral expenses.

    Last year, a special grand jury indicted Couture and Aeschlimann on second-degree murder charges. In November, a jury failed to reach a verdict in Couture's trial. After the hung jury, Aeschlimann's trial was postponed by then-Commonwealth's Attorney David M. Hicks.

    This year, new Commonwealth's Attorney Michael N. Herring dismissed the criminal case against Aeschlimann, saying a review showed there was insufficient evidence to support charges. Aeschlimann remains a Richmond police officer.

    In March, Herring presented a modified case against Couture to a new grand jury. The panel indicted Couture for voluntary manslaughter. His case goes to trial Aug. 28.

    "Mr. Couture has not been served with the lawsuit, nor has he reviewed it," said attorney Sara Davis Harman, who, along with attorney David P. Baugh represents the ex-officer in the criminal case. Citing the pending criminal case, she declined comment on the allegations in the suit.

    "Due to the litigation pending against the city, there is no comment to be made at this time," said city spokesman Linwood P. Norman.

  2. #2
    Retdetsgt's Avatar
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    Happens here every time we smoke some asshole.
    When I used to be somebody (I'm center top)

    "A burning desire for social justice is never a substitute for knowing what you're talking about". -Thomas Sowell-

  3. #3
    Sheriff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retdetsgt
    Happens here every time we smoke some asshole.
    Huh? You jump in a moving car to do it??

    .

  4. #4
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    Detective7653 is offline Police Detective
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    I don't know why he jumped into the vehicle. I was not there but I would not fire into a car unless a gun has been displayed or I am pinned or something. Here in MO they indicted a Lincoln Co. Sheriffs deputy for almost the same thing. He fired into a vehicle that was backing up towards him and he shot and killed to suspects. The truck had just tried to run from him with head lights off and the Deputy found them. He said he was in fear for his life and he fired. It's one of the situations you would not want to be in and you dont know what you would do untill you are in the situation.

  5. #5
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    We had a guy here that took off on a traffic stop and the cooper got snagged on the vehicle. Six shots stopped the driver.
    http://www.lawenforcementforums.com/forums/signaturepics/sigpic763_2.gif

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  6. #6
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    There are a couple reasons whaich may have caused him to jump in instead of jump out of the vehicle. The problem with news articles, are that they rarely, if ever contain all the facts.

    Maybe part of the police officer duty belt or uniform got hung up while trying to extract the driver. Also the door may have been open when the vehicle started moving and letting go of the driver may have resulted in getting hit by the door and run over, crushed, or snagged under the car and dragged.

    What I do know, is that "I" wasn't there, and I am not privey to all the facts in the file. So, it wouldn't be fair for me to comment on whether a guy F'd up or not when I wasn't in his shoes, or have all the info.

  7. #7
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    It sounds to me like the officer was trying to drag Olavarria out, and the guy tried to take off so the officer jumped in because he didn't want the guy to get away, or maybe get his legs broken or something, if he was halfway inside the car already.

    Olavarria could have had his foot on the accelerator and still had his hands up.

    It's strange that the officer would wind up on the passenger seat though - Maybe he was trying to drag the guy out from the passenger side?
    Last edited by TXCharlie; 06-02-06 at 08:59 PM.

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    Retdetsgt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheriff
    Huh? You jump in a moving car to do it??

    .
    A few years ago, we had a similar case. The officer climbed in the car to remove the driver, a female who was wanted on some felony warrants. He shot her when she tried to take off in the car. Big, big todo about it. The whole community was calling for the officer's head. He was given a 6 month suspension w/o pay and people were pissed he was fired. The woman was African American so that community was up in arms.

    He finally told the city to kiss off and quit. He sued for back pay during the suspension and got it plus attorney fees. In a nutshell, the city left him out to hang and once the jury actually heard the facts, they agreed.

    Tactically, I would never climb in a car, no matter what. I agree on that point.
    When I used to be somebody (I'm center top)

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  9. #9
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    Virginia had a trooper killed while reaching into a car
    a few years ago. I guess stuff happens.

    http://www.odmp.org/officer.php?oid=16530

    .

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retdetsgt
    He was given a 6 month suspension w/o pay and people were pissed he was fired.

    Did you mean he was fired, or he wasn't?
    .

  11. #11
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    Forget about jumping in a car with the guy- why would his partner shoot while he's wrestling with the guy? Unless his partner is Deadeye Dick or something.
    The virtue of spirit has no need for thanks or approval. Only the certain conviction that what has been done is right. -Jor El, as played by Marlon Brando

  12. #12
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    I reached into a car to detain someone and got hung up on his seatbelt, my partner's taser got me, then I got drug by the suspect's car. Had better days...... and learned a big lesson the hard way.

 

 

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