Shot to Death for Nothing, Family Says
SALT LAKE CITY (CN) - Police officers responded to a family's complaint that their diabetic son may have been in danger from driving without taking his medicine by running him off the road into an interstate highway median and shooting him to death, the family says.
Joey Tucker's father, Perry Tucker, and his fiancée Brieanne Matson say they were "concerned about his health" when they called Salt Lake City Police. Joey Tucker had not taken his diabetes medication and "had possibly taken a sleeping pill," according to the federal complaint.
The family claims a Highway Patrol trooper rammed Tucker's pickup into a concrete barrier as Tucker drove on Interstate 80, then Salt Lake Police Officer Louis "Law" Jones shot him to death while he "was simply sitting," all of which was recorded on officers' dashboard cameras.
"Perry Tucker was concerned that his son had not taken his medication for diabetes and had possibly taken a sleeping pill" and called police, the complaint states.
"Accordingly, Brieanne contacted the police to assist in locating Joey because the family was concerned about his health."
Both callers told police that Tucker was unarmed and had not been drinking alcohol.
Joey Tucker visited his fiancée at her workplace after she and Tucker's father made the calls, and police followed him as he left the business.
Officers Jones and Lisa Pascaldo and Highway Patrol Trooper Lawrence Hopper trailed Tucker on city streets and the freeway, according to the complaint.
Hopper "attempted a pit maneuver while Joey was traveling below the speed limit," the complaint states. A pit maneuver involves forcing a pursued vehicle to turn sideways to its direction of travel, immobilizing it.
Hopper's first attempt was unsuccessful, but on his second try he made Joey Tucker's vehicle "spin and collide with a cement barrier as he was traveling on I-80," the complaint states.
"Immediately after Joey's vehicle came to a stop with the vehicle in reverse with Joey sitting there with his hands on the steering wheel surrounded by Officer Jones, Officer Pascadlo, and Trooper Hopper, Officer Jones fired three shots, killing Joey," the complaint states.
"Joey was surrounded and there was nowhere for him to go. According to the dash cam video, it did not show Joey accelerating or putting his vehicle in drive to move his vehicle in an area toward the officers. At no time did any of the other officers or Trooper Hopper shoot out Joey's tires or spike the tires."
The complaint states: "Immediately after hearing Officer Jones discharge his gun in a careless, reckless manner, the only thing you can hear on the dash cam video was Trooper Hopper exclaiming, 'Oh, no! Oh, shit!'
"After the use of unreasonable excessive deadly force, Officer Jones was not terminated or reprimanded by Salt Lake City Corporation. ...
"The dash cam videos reveal that Joey did not take any action, make any threats, or do anything to cause any immediate or [im]minent threat of harm to any of the officers. Joey was simply sitting in his vehicle."
The family seeks punitive damages for wrongful death, loss of consortium and civil rights violations, and medical and funeral expenses.
They are represented by George Waddoups with Robert J. Debry & Associates.