Man Shot by Wife May Have Case Against City

     (CN) – A man whose estranged wife shot him in the back can sue his hometown in Louisiana because a police escort left him alone with her, a state appeals court ruled.
     Reginald Phillips had a police escort accompany him to the home he once shared with his wife, Kimberly, so that he could remove some personal belongings.
     Tensions were high in the Crowly, La., house that day in July 2009 because Kimberly had just failed to get an order of protection against Reginald after the couple had a domestic dispute.
     Three officers were at the home, but they allegedly told Reginald that they “didn’t have time to babysit” and demanded that he leave.
     Reginald said he called his lawyer, who explained to the officer that his client had the right to retrieve his items.
     As Reginald continued gathering his belongings, Kimberly called a friend to come over.
     Both Kimberly and the friend worked for the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Department, but Kimberly worked in the tax-collection department and the friend worked in 911.
     After the friend arrived with her children, the officers apparently felt that her presence allowed them to leave.
     The friend did not stay long, however, because her children were getting “antsy.”
     She called Kimberly a short time later and then returned to the home when she did not get an answer. There she found police cars and an ambulance. Kimberly had shot Reginald in the back multiple times.
     Reginald testified that he was unplugging a wireless router when Kimberly came up behind him and said, “This is all you’re going to get.” She then shot him, causing spinal cord injuries and paralysis.
     Kimberly is in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of aggravated second-degree battery.
     Reginald sued the city of Crowley for the restless police officers, and he said the Acadia Parish Sheriff was liable for failing to fire Kimberly and take away her gun after she stole $60,000 from the office.
     Kimberly admitted the theft and said she took the money to feed her gambling addiction. The sheriff’s office did fire Kimberly after the shooting.
     A district judge nevertheless granted the defendants summary judgment, citing a lack of foreseeability of the crime.
     Louisiana’s Lake Charles-based Third Circuit Court of Appeals revived Reginald’s claims against the city of Crowley last week.
     “We find, at a minimum, material questions of fact existed as to whether the officers acted reasonably in leaving the residence under the circumstances of this case,” Judge Sylvia Cooks wrote for a mostly unanimous five-person panel. “There was clear testimony the parties were hostile to each other while the officers were present and several of the officers on the scene were personally aware police officers had previously visited the residence because of domestic disputes between Reginald and Kimberly.” (Emphasis in original.)
     Acadia and its sheriff need not face claims, however, according to the ruling.
     “We conclude Kimberly was outside her employment and was effecting a purpose of her own when the shooting took place,” Cooks wrote.
     In a partial dissent, Judge John Conery said he would have sided with the city.
     “Even assuming one or more of the officers may have been aware of past domestic incidents between Kimberly and Mr. Phillips, the prior incidents involved alleged violence and threats by Mr. Phillips against Mrs. Phillips,” Conery wrote (emphasis in original). The “officers had no information to suggest Mrs. Phillips was in any way a threat to Mr. Phillips.”

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