A federal judge has dismissed the city of St. George, Utah and one of its police officers from a lawsuit filed by the parents of a high school student who was killed while handling a blank-firing prop pistol just before a school play.
U.S. District Judge Dee Benson ruled that officer Stacy Richan and the city should not be held responsible for the actions of other people in the death of 15-year-old Tucker Thayer during preparations for a drama department presentation of “Oklahoma.”
Richan was the special resource officer at Desert Hills High School when Thayer was struck in the head with a blank in November 2008, The Spectrum of St. George reported. He died later that night.
Ron and Cathie Thayer filed the wrongful death suit in 2009, seeking more than $2 million in damages from Richan and the city, as well as the Washington County School District, school Vice Principal Robert Goulding, theater teacher Michael Eaton and parent David Amodt, who owned the gun involved in the fatal shooting.
Amodt was previously dismissed as a defendant.
Attorney Michael Welker, who represents the Thayers, said while the claims against the others were still pending, the Utah Supreme Court will rule on whether the school district is immune from litigation under law regarding government agencies.
The suit says that despite Richan’s requirements that the gun be used only under adult supervision and other strict conditions, it and blanks were left in a sound booth where Thayer was shot. He was alone in the sound booth at the time.
But Benson wrote that no one has alleged Richan knew a student was shooting the gun and that Richan was not the person in charge of deciding if it could be used.
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