Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit In Police Shooting Of Alonzo Heyward

Collier Says Officers Did Not Violate Constitutional Rights Through Use Of Excessive Force

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Federal Judge Curtis Collier has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the family of a rifle-wielding man who was shot on July 18, 2009, by six city police officers.

Alonzo Heyward had 43 bullet wounds, but Judge Collier said he refused to comply with commands to stop and give up the gun, he started to walk in a house with the weapon, and he turned the rifle toward the officers after he was tased.

Judge Collier said, "Because a reasonable fact-finder, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, could not find the officers violated Heyward's constitutional rights through excessive use of force, it is unnecessary to consider whether any alleged violated right was 'firmly established.'"

The judge said the six officers had a duty to stop Heyward from going into the house with the rifle and "had manifest probable cause to believe Heyward posed an immediate serious threat of physical harm to themselves and others."

Attorney Bryan Hoss, who represented five of the officers along with attorney Lee Davis, said, "This has taken two years, but we have said from day one the officers had a reason for what they did and they are finally vindicated.ydid an autopsy report shows."

He added, "These are great officers. Five of the six are still on the streets patrolling for the citizens of Chattanooga."

Attorney Hoss said the case had been set to go to trial on July 25 and was expected to last two weeks. The defense had over 250 exhibits and over 20 witnesses ready to go.

Attorney Johnny Houston represented officer Deborah Dennison, who married, moved to Alabama and is in another line of work.

The city was also sued and was represented by Phil Noblette and Crystal Freiberg of the city attorney's office.

Police said the officers fired a total of 59 shots.

Officers Dennison, Lauren Bacha, Zachery Moody, George Romero, William Salyers and Bryan Wood were initially placed on paid leave according to Chattanooga Police Department policy.

Police confronted Heyward on the porch of a house at 4316A 7th Ave. after first finding him on Rossville Boulevard.

Read Judge Collier's judgment order below:

Judgment Order of Judge Collier

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