May 23, 2005, 02:43 PM
Join Date: May 21, 2004
Interesting, Frank. I never knew Garner vs TN was a civil case. None the less, it is the milestone case for the use of deadly force in law enforcement.
Check this out:
Laws, rules keep cops from removal
Charges can't be brought if suspected felon is shot
May 17, 2000
BY DAVID ASHENFELTER
and JOE SWICKARD
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS
Sometimes, laws and regulations thwart officials when they try to get rid of a cop for a questionable shooting.
Detroit police executives and prosecutors agreed in 1995, for instance, that a rookie cop was wrong when he shot an unarmed teenager who was tampering with a car. But they couldn't kick him off the force or put him on trial.
"We fired him," Police Chief Benny Napoleon said. "The arbitrator gave him his job back."
The officer, Archie Arp, declined to comment.
On the night of Aug. 23, 1995, Arp was off duty and dropped in to visit his girlfriend at a bar on Joy Road near West Parkway. Arp, 45, had been a cop for a year.
Arp was in the bar a few minutes, police and court records show, when he was asked to check out the parking lot because a kid was seen messing with a car.
Moments later, gunshots were heard and 14-year-old Charles Clay lay dying on the street. Clay was about 90 feet from Arp, and a screwdriver with a 4-inch blade was near the youth's body.
Arp told investigators the youth ran but suddenly turned on him with a shiny object that Arp believed was a weapon. It was the screwdriver.
The autopsy showed that Clay had been shot in the middle of the back. The bullet's path through his body indicated that he may have been running when hit.
Even so, Sgt. Arlie Lovier of the special assignment squad, who was the officer in charge of the homicide investigation, said it was "a good shooting," with no violations of criminal law or department regulations.
The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office wanted to charge Arp, but couldn't. The office determined that a criminal case was impossible because a Michigan Supreme Court ruling said it was legal for anyone -- civilian or police officer -- to use deadly force to stop a fleeing felon. Assistant prosecutor Michael King said he regretted that he could not bring state charges, "but I feel bound" by the Supreme Court ruling.
However, prosecutors issued a news release indicating that the shooting could be a "civil violation of the deceased's federal rights to be free of unreasonable arrest."
In a September 1995 letter to the police department, county prosecutors said Arp's story wasn't supported by facts, and his use of deadly force appeared to violate department policy.
The police department held hearings and fired Arp, but the dismissal was overturned on appeal in 1998. Arp was suspended for six months, and is still with the department.
Clay's family sued in Wayne County Circuit Court in 1995. The city settled the case for $1 million a year later.