ESL and cops sued for shooting, paralyzing fleeing suspect

Ann Knef May 10, 2007, 7:00am

A 28-year-old male who was shot in the back last year while attempting to elude capture claims two East St. Louis police officers used excessive, unjustifiable force.

Antoine Murray, who was paralyzed as a result of the incident, also claims that citizens are abused by police "as a matter of widespread practice" and city officials condone a "code of silence" by failing to report such misconduct.

He filed suit against the city, the cops and police chief in St. Clair County Circuit Court on May 7, seeking in excess of $250,000 in damages.

According to the complaint, Murray pulled his vehicle over at Lincoln and 25th Streets on May 9, 2006, after being followed by officers identified as John Doe and James Doe.

He fled the vehicle and was in the process of climbing a chain link fence when he was struck in the back by one or more bullets fired by the officers, the suit claims.

The suit also claims that, given the circumstances, the shooting was unlawful because there was no immediate threat of harm to the officers.

"The plaintiff Antoine Murray sustained serious physical injury and damages including a complete spinal cord injury, paralysis and incontinence," the complaint states.

Murray, represented by Gonzalo Fernandez of St. Louis, claims the defendants owed a duty to the public to refrain from the use of excessive force.

The suit claims Murray's constitutional rights were violated in that the East St. Louis Police Department "facilitated" the type of misconduct at issue by failing to adequately punish or discipline instances of similiar misconduct.

"As a matter of policy and practice, the ESLPD undertakes inadequate and defective internal affairs investigations, such that ESLPD officers are encouraged to believe that their actions will not be subject to scrutiny which, in turn, encourages a pattern of future abuses such as those that affected Antoine Murray," the complaint states.

"As a matter of both policy and practice, the ESLPD encourages the very type of misconduct at issue here by failing to adequately train, supervise and control its officers, as well as hiring and retraining officers without adequate background checks and with deliberate indifference to the fact that such individuals are not qualified to be police officers due to lack of experience and training or violent or reckless tendencies," the complaint states.

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