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Thursday, April 11, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Police Not Liable for|Huffing-Related Death

(CN) - A widow whose husband was killed by a driver who blacked out after inhaling dust remover can't collect damages from police, who pulled the driver over earlier but let her go, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled.

Larry Downing was killed in a supermarket parking lot when he was run down by Tabitha Shea Farmer, who had inhaled a can of 3M dust remover.

Police officers in Dothan, Ala., had pulled Farmer over earlier for erratic driving, but sent her on her way, deciding that she was not under the influence after she passed several field sobriety tests.

A witness had told the officers that Farmer had driven through a red light and over a park bench.

Police found two cans of dust remover in the car, one with the cap open; however, Farmer denied that she had inhaled the fumes.

The trial court ruled that Downing's widow, Mary, had failed to prove that the Dothan police had acted improperly. Justice Mike Bolin affirmed the decision.

"Downing has failed to carry their burden of showing that the police officers acted beyond their authority in exercising their discretion in enforcing the criminal laws of the state," Bolin wrote.

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