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Man Claims Akron Has Trigger-Happy Cop

AKRON, Ohio (CN) - Three years after an Akron policeman killed a man in a barrage of gunfire, he wounded another man, who was complying with police orders, by firing 14 shots at him, hitting him twice, the man claims in Federal Court.

Jacob Ragsdale sued Akron, its Police Department, and police Officer Joseph Sidoti.

Ragsdale claims Sidoti, a member of the SWAT and sniper teams, was responding to a 911 call that came in at about 1:14 a.m. on Oct. 12, 2011.

According to the complaint: "On October 12, 2011, at approximately 1:00 a.m., plaintiff was at his residence ... when a verbal altercation commenced between Ragsdale and Lloyd S. Provitt Sr. Ragsdale retreated into his residence.

"Subsequent to Ragsdale's retreat, Provitt unlawfully entered the residence by forcibly entering the house through the locked front door.

"Plaintiff obtained his .22 caliber rifle, which was missing its wooden stock, and fired a shot into the wall of the residence in an effort to induce Provitt to vacate the premises. Ohio's Castle Doctrine provides that a person attempting to expel another is allowed to use deadly force or force great enough to cause serious bodily harm, and thus, Ragsdale's actions were lawful."

Provitt, who is not a party to the complaint, made a 911 call at about 1:14 a.m., Ragsdale says. Sidoti and other officers responded.

"Sidoti obtained his .223 caliber, AR 15 rifle with an EOTech site and mounted flashlight from his police cruiser (Car no. 7). Eighteen rounds of alternating ammunition were loaded into such weapon. The first type of round was used to penetrate structure walls, and the alternative was a normal round," the complaint states.

"Sidoti entered into the fenced-in backyard of plaintiff's residence. The backyard lighting conditions of the residence were extremely poor.

"Plaintiff exited the residence with his .22 rifle in hand since he did not know whether Provitt had vacated the premises. At such time, plaintiff was not aware that there were any police officers on site."

An officer other than Sidoti confronted Ragsdale, who complied with his orders and "attempted to place his rifle on the ground," according to the complaint. "At no time subsequent to Ragsdale exiting the house did Ragsdale raise the rifle into a shooting position and/or make any movements suggesting he would engage the officers with the rifle.

"Despite the fact that Ragsdale started to comply and posed no threat to the officers, Sidoti, a SWAT team member and sniper team member, intentionally and maliciously fired at Ragsdale fourteen (14) times from approximately fifteen (15) feet away, causing him gunshot wounds to the left arm and pelvis with a high velocity tactical round."

Ragsdale says in the complaint that Sidoti shot to death Jeffrey Stephens in July 2008.

"Sidoti was responding to a call made in reference to a public disturbance and shooting that took place at Mr. Stephens' residence," the complaint states. "Sidoti, with his weapon drawn, encountered Mr. Stephens, who was attempting to locate the men who had fired shots at his home. Sidoti ordered Mr. Stephens to the ground, and Mr. Stephens started to comply with such order. Despite such compliance, Sidoti intentionally and maliciously began shooting at Mr. Stephens (an action which his partner soon joined). Mr. Stephens was shot a combined twenty-three (23) times, and died on scene." (Parentheses in complaint.)

Ragsdale claims Akron "hired and retained as employees violent persons with a propensity for violence, including Officer Sidoti."

He seeks damages for assault, failure to train, negligence, and civil rights violations.

He is represented by Joseph Triscaro, with DeMarco and Triscaro, of Solon, Ohio.

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