Oregon Wrongful Death Case Reinstated

9th Circuit CourthouseThe family of Lukus Glenn will get their day in court over the 2006 shooting death of the 18-year-old by deputies called to deal with a drunk and distraught teenager threatening suicide.  A federal appeals court reinstated the wrongful death lawsuit by his mother Nov. 4 against Oregon’s Washington County and the three sheriff’s deputies involved.

Glenn had no history of violence or criminal activity but he came home intoxicated at 3 a.m. one night intending to drive his motorcycle. 

Deputies arrived at the Glenn home after a 911 call from Glenn’s mother hoping they could calm the teenager who was threatening to cut his throat with a pocket knife after being told he could not drive his motorcycle at 3 a.m.

Instead, the three officers shot him with six beanbag rounds.  Glenn appeared stunned and took two steps away and at that point the officers began firing their semiautomatic weapons, hitting him eight times in the back, stomach, shoulder and legs, according to the opinion.

Sheriff Rob Gordon issued a report after an administrative review declaring the incident justified and stating deputies performed as trained.

The  9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recited the claims of the lawsuit alleging that from the moment Deputy Mikhail Gerba arrived he only screamed commands at Glenn telling him to “drop the knife or I’m going to kill you.”

One of Glenn’s friends who had arrived earlier hoping to calm Glenn implored deputy tony Morales to “calm down” that Glenn was only threatening to hurt himself.

 The wrongful death suit was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman in Portland in 2010 concluding the officers’ use of force did not violate Glenn’s Fourth Amendment rights and that the deputies were entitled to immunity.

“We hold that the district court erred in granting summary judgment on the constitutionality of the officers’ use of force,” wrote Judge Raymond Fisher.  “We recognize that the officers have offered evidence that could support a verdict in their favor.  A jury could view the facts as the district court did, and likewise reach the conclusion that the officers’ use of force was reasonable.  But on summary judgment, the district court was not permitted to act as a factfinder.”

Fisher wrote, “A jury should have the opportunity to assess the reasonableness of the force used after hearing all the evidence.”

 Case:  Glenn v. Washington County,  No. 10-35636

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