Members of the Gardner City Council met in closed session at their July 18 meeting to discuss a pending lawsuit regarding an officer involved shooting that occurred in March, 2015.
A wrongful death suit was filed Feb. 25 by the family of Deanne Choate, 53, who was fatally shot by Gardner police officers on March 26, 2015.
The suit, filed in United States District Court by Michele Choate on behalf of all heirs of Deanne Choate, names the City of Gardner, and three police officers, as defendants.
Police were responding to a 911 call at a home in the 400 block of North Birch Street. The call indicated Deanne was under the influence of alcohol, may be suicidal and had a gun, according to court documents.
According to a press release issued last year by the district attorney’s office, a review was completed on March 26. “It is the determination of the District Attorney that the Gardner police officer’s use of force was justified under Kansas law,” the release said. “Therefore, no criminal action will be taken against that officer.” The DA’s office cleared officers of wrongdoing in a letter dated May 12, 2015. Officers were not named at the time and were on paid leave during the investigation prior to returning to duty.
According to court documents filed Feb. 25, when police arrived at the scene, the door was opened by Deanne’s boyfriend, Andrew Musto, who was immediately handcuffed and removed from the residence.
The suit alleges unnecessarily aggressive behavior and impulsive, reckless and excessive use of deadly force and also that the city has a practice of authorizing the use of deadly force in the absence of an actual immediate threat and a longstanding policy of hiding a police officer’s excessive use of force.
The suit seeks an unspecified amount in damages.
The city administrator’s office has said no statement would be made due to pending litigation.