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Allen v. Muskogee
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
119 F.3d 837 (1997)
Terry Allen left his house with several guns after fighting with his family. The Muskogee Police Department (MPD) was informed that Terry was emotional and suicidal. The MPD officers found Terry sitting in his car with a gun in his hand. The MPD officers immediately approached Terry and tried to force the gun away. Terry pointed the gun at the officers, and the officers shot and killed Terry. The entire interaction lasted 90 seconds. Terry’s wife, Marilyn Allen (plaintiff), sued the city of Muskogee (the City) (defendant) in federal district court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, arguing that the MPD inadequately trained their police officers to respond to emotional and suicidal citizens, resulting in the death of Terry. At trial, a witness testified that an MPD officer aggressively approached Terry to take away the gun. Another witness testified that the same MPD officer cautiously approached Terry. Despite this inconsistency, the MPD’s training coordinator testified that the MPD officers approached Allen in a way consistent with the officers’ training. The MPD’s training policy was not submitted to the court. An expert witness testified there is a national consensus that police must not directly confront emotional and suicidal citizens to forcefully take away guns, because it will likely result in the death of a police officer or citizens. The district court dismissed the claims against the City, holding that there was no genuine issue of material fact. Marilyn appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Kelly, J.)
Dissent (Kelly, J.)
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