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City to Settle Lawsuit Involving Off-Duty Police Officers

Posted on May 12, 2014

City to Settle Lawsuit Involving Off-Duty Police Officers

The Tallahassee City Commission is scheduled to approve an $85,000 settlement over a lawsuit that stems from the actions of off-duty police officers during the shooting death of Reshard Morrell in 2011.

On April 22, 2011, four Tallahassee police officers were working off-duty at the Tallahassee Elks Lodge during an event being held by Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.  At the end of the evening, Reshard Morrell, a 15 year old innocent bystander, was shot and killed by a member of a Tallahassee gang.

The attorneys for the estate of Morrell brought suit against the Tallahassee Elks Lodge, the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, and the City of Tallahassee, as the employer of the four off duty police officers.

How can the city of Tallahassee be sued for the actions of off-duty officers?

City Attorney Lew Shelley told Tallahassee Reports that there are provisions in the City’s employment contract with the police union, called the Officer Service Agreement, that essential protects off-duty officers from liability associated with law enforcement related activities.

Mr. Shelley told Tallahassee Reports that the City is taking a hard look at the language and indicated that changes may be recommended to the City Commission.

While the City contended that the officers acted reasonably, the City’s  legal analysis concluded that “a reasonable jury could find some liability against the City for failing to inspect the parking lot and perimeter immediately prior to disbursing the crowd and otherwise protecting the attendees.”

The item is on the consent agenda for the May 14th City Commission meeting.

2 Responses to City to Settle Lawsuit Involving Off-Duty Police Officers

  1. Diana Steinberg Reply

    May 13, 2014 at 11:03 am

    I don’t think they should pay this money out, but I will say that this is the ONLY suit that has any merit, because this young man did seem to be an innocent victim. One could argue that being at a gathering like that was inviting trouble, however.

  2. Hope Reply

    May 14, 2014 at 6:21 am

    Why isn’t the fraternity being held accountable? They allowed and planned this late night affair with older youth in attendance; certainly inappropriate for 15 year olds.

    My condolences to the family for their loss.

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