Man who lost leg after police chase sues North Liberty, Walkerton
NORTH LIBERTY – A 2019 police chase that included a total of two cars and ended with officers shooting a suspect in a corn field near North Liberty is now being challenged by a recent lawsuit.
The lawsuit brought by Kevin Meyers, who was shot by police and whose left leg was amputated as a result of his injuries in the incident, alleges that North Liberty and Walkerton officials used excessive force by shooting at him during the pursuit.
The lawsuit names the cities of North Liberty and Walkerton as well as North Liberty officer Eric Kelly and Walkerton officer Travis Jackson as defendants.
Both Kelly and Jackson’s decisions to shoot Meyers (50) during the persecution were “inappropriate, unnecessary and objectively unreasonable,” the lawsuit said.
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According to the complaint, early in the morning of October 21, 2019, Meyers was sleeping in his car in St. Joseph Cemetery near Indiana 2, where his grandmother is buried, when he was woken up by a St. Joseph County officer. Police said Meyer’s car stole license plates and trespassed.
Meyers then drove south on Indiana 23. When he was south of North Liberty, a police car driven by Kelly tried to ram Meyers, the lawsuit said. Meyers then turned and drove into a corn field near the intersection of Indiana 23 and Leeper Road.
Kelly then “came” up to Meyers with an AR15 rifle and tried to break Meyers’ window with the butt of the gun, the lawsuit said. Believing Kelly tried to kill him, Meyer’s lawsuit alleges, Kelly drove into the cornfield where Jackson pulled up in a Walkerton police car in front of Meyers and “dumped a full clip from his gun” in Meyer’s window on three occasions.
Eventually Kelly shot Meyers, who then fell out of his car and was taken to the hospital, where his left leg was amputated, according to Guy Dimartino, a lawyer who represents Meyers in the lawsuit.
Meyer’s car and a Walkerton police cruiser went up in flames at the end of the chase and both vehicles were total losses.
At the time of the incident, police said Meyers rammed several law enforcement vehicles before ending up in the corn field. Meyers denies ramming either Jackson or Kelly in his lawsuit.
“No shooting was justified”
The lawsuit argues that Jackson’s and Kelly’s use of force was unjustified and that they deprived Meyers of his rights.
Dimartino said as soon as Meyers was in the cornfield off the road, the officers could have surrounded him and asked him to get out of the car.
“All they had to do was surround the field and say, ‘Hey dude, enough is enough.’ You don’t have to chase and ram him and start shooting him, “said Dimartino.
Gene Reese, president of Walkerton City Council, declined to comment and forwarded reporters to the city’s attorney, Fred Jones, who also made no comment.
Marcel Lebbin, a North Liberty attorney, declined to comment, and phone calls to Walkerton and North Liberty Police Departments were not returned on Friday.
Meyers is demanding an unspecified amount of damage caused by Kelly and Jackson’s alleged excessive use of force.
Dimartino admitted Meyers was in a stolen vehicle, but said that did not give officers any justification to shoot him.
“It’s still a property crime,” said Dimartino. “It wasn’t like he stole the vehicle and they are following him after he stole the vehicle. I understand when a woman is there and he hijacks her car and flies away. But that’s not the case here. It didn’t justify a shooting. ”
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Dimartino said he couldn’t explain why Meyers drove away from the police the first time he woke up, or why he eventually didn’t stop. Meyers is currently in jail for an unrelated incident and has multiple convictions and pending cases related to car theft.
Dimartino said Meyers waited almost two years to file the lawsuit because he wanted investigative reports on public file requests from the authorities involved in the incident. However, Dimartino said Walkerton Police only provided video footage of an officer not directly involved in the chase, while North Liberty did not provide footage.
The St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit investigated the persecution and presented its findings to District Attorney Ken Cotter. No charges have been brought against Meyers, Kelly or Jackson in connection with the persecution.
The public prosecutor’s office rejected Meyer’s request for evidence from the investigation, according to the documents filed in the lawsuit.
Indiana law allows law enforcement agencies to refuse to release records that the agency considers to be “information followed in the course of investigating a crime.”
“If everything is fine and nothing is there, why not just say, ‘Here, take a look?” Said Dimartino.
Send an email to Marek Mazurek at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @marek_mazurek