A federal appeals court reinstated a wrongful death lawsuit against two police officers in Ohio’s capital city over the 2016 shooting of a Black man by undercover officers.
In a ruling issued Sept. 8, a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found officers Zachary Rosen and Jason Bare were not immune from civil liability because they continued firing shots after Henry Green was no longer a threat. The ruling found a jury could “reasonably conclude” that the officers’ use of force in this context was unreasonable.
Columbus police have said the 23-year-old Green, who was Black, ignored commands to drop his gun by Rosen and Bare, who are white. Court documents and depositions say Green shot at officers, who then returned fire. Green’s family has argued Green fired after police shot at him.
A grand jury declined to indict the officers, and an internal Columbus police investigation cleared them.
A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in September 2019, finding it was reasonable to use deadly force under the circumstances. The appeals court ruling affirmed summary judgments in favor of Columbus, its former police chief and two other officers named in the suit, but remanded the case against Rosen and Bare back to the lower federal court for further consideration.
Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein said his office was reviewing the decision and hasn’t decided whether it will seek a review of the case by the full appeals court.
One member of the appeals panel, Judge Ralph Guy Jr., dissented in part to the ruling, writing that he would affirm the lower court’s finding. Noting the exchange of gunfire occurred in a matter of seconds, Guy said he could not agree the two officers had time “to stop and reassess the threat level” before the last shots were fired.
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