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Wrongful death suit continues against State Patrol sergeant

Earlier this month, a judge at a federal court in Colorado allowed a wrongful death lawsuit filed against a Colorado State Patrol sergeant to proceed to trial. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a 31-year-old man who was shot by a state trooper.

According to the suit, in the summer of 2010, the victim was returning home to his apartment from a trip on the Colorado River. In an attempt to back his jet ski into his driveway, the watercraft fell into his neighbor’s yard. The lawn suffered minor property damage, and the neighbor called police to report the incident.

After moving the jet ski into his driveway, the victim went into his apartment. When police received the report from the neighbor, they assumed that the man may have been drunk, and two troopers and the sergeant went to his apartment without a warrant in an attempt to test his blood alcohol level. The 31-year-old refused to open the door completely because the police did not have a warrant, and the troopers began to try to break the door down.

As the victim was peeking around the door to speak with police, one of the troopers sprayed him with mace. While the other trooper went around the back of the apartment, the door opened a little more, and the trooper shot the man. The judge determined that because the sergeant did not do anything to prevent the troopers from doing what they did, he “directly facilitated and contributed to the warrantless search and use of force.”

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