A man who said that an officer's bullet put him in a wheelchair filed a $10 million lawsuit against Columbus police yesterday.
Shannon Preston, 24, was shot by Officer Stanford Speaks, who had been working special duty at the Obvious nightclub, 2467 E. Dublin-Granville Rd., on March 24, 2006. Shots had been fired from inside a car, and police said Preston ran when the car he was in was stopped by officers.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said Speaks thought Preston, the driver, was reaching for a gun. Two others in the car blamed Preston for firing a shot into the air outside the club, O'Brien said.
But attorney William Settina said Preston was unarmed and shot in the buttocks and back as he ran from officers.
"Officer Speaks ... did not shout any warning for the plaintiff to halt or stop in any way, and had no probable cause to believe that the plaintiff posed a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officers or others," the lawsuit says.
"It was never alleged he fired a gun at anybody, but officers found a gun in the car," Settina said.
On March 7, Preston pleaded guilty to a felony count of improper handling of a firearm. He is to be sentenced April 13. The maximum penalty is 12 months in prison.
The suit, filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, seeks $10 million in damages for excessive use of force, assault, false arrest, emotional distress, denial of due process, recklessness, and a failure to train and supervise officers. Defendants are Speaks, the city of Columbus, the Police Division and Chief James G. Jackson.
As a result of the shooting, Preston, of 1001 E. 22nd St., lost his right leg and has no feeling below the waist, the complaint says.
Speaks, 37, is a nine-year veteran of the Police Division.
All police-involved shootings are investigated by veteran homicide detectives on the Critical Incident Response Team. The findings are reviewed by the Firearms Board of Inquiry, composed of three commanders who make a recommendation about whether the shooting followed policy. A deputy chief makes the final decision.
A year after the shooting, the investigation is largely complete, but supervisors have asked for more information, Sgt. Jeff Sacksteder said yesterday.
Speaks had been involved in another shooting, on Jan. 25, 2004. Investigators found that he and another officer acted within policy when they fired shots at a car after one of the occupants opened fire in a parking lot on Sinclair Road.