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Veteran’s Tragic Death Prompts Lawsuit in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (CN) - Police shot and killed a disoriented Iraq veteran who briefly mistook a neighboring apartment for his own, a federal complaint alleges.

The tragic altercation occurred at 6 a.m. on Nov. 17, 2013, according to the complaint filed Monday.

Though Jason White, 31, lived in an apartment complex at 5420 Tretorn Drive, Hilliard, Ohio, a tenant from the "nearly identical" 5425 Tretorn allegedly called the Columbus police that morning because White had entered her apartment through an unlocked door.

Patti Stevens-Rucker, the administrator of White's estate, says this woman reported "that a man entered her apartment but did not make any threats."

"She reported that his speech was incoherent, he appeared to be in a daze, and he appeared to be mentally ill," the complaint continues.

White had allegedly left the apartment building by the time Patrol Officer Don Alderman located him.

The officer drew his Taser and fired it at White, the complaint says, adding that "Alderman then drew his pistol, pointed it at Jason, and fired it."

White ran, but was found about a half an hour later by Alderman and two other officers, John Frenz and Dustin McKee, in the courtyard of nearby apartment complex.

"Defendants drew their firearms and fired multiple shots at Jason, striking him repeatedly in both the front and back of his body," the suit contends.

White was allegedly pronounced dead soon after.

At no time did any of the officers offer "White any medical of mental health assistance during their interactions with him," and no officer was injured during the confrontation, the complaint alleges.

"Just days before his death, Jason's acquaintances remember him as being avoidant and fearful of leaving his apartment complex," his estate claims.

The "decorated veteran" had just been honorably discharged after serving a tour of duty in Iraq, according to the complaint.

"Following his return from combat, Jason's family became concerned about his mental health and coping abilities when his stress reactions did not dissipate on their own," his estate says. "Jason was seeking medical and mental health treatment for his post-combat stress symptoms.

White's estate seeks punitive damages for excessive force, indifference to serious medical needs, and assault and battery. Police Chief Kimberly Jacobs and the city of Columbus are named as defendants for failure to train and supervise.

Michael Hill of Spangenberg Shibley & Liper and David Grant of Pelvin & Gallucci represent the estate.

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