A federal judge has denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against the city claiming that Gregory Sevier's civil rights were violated when he was shot by police more than two years ago.
In an order filed last week in Topeka, U.S. District Judge Sam A. Crow denied a motion from City Atty. Gerald Cooley, who had asked that Willie and Orene Sevier's lawsuit be dismissed because it lacked factual support.
Crow said the Seviers' claims -- that police used excessive force, received inadequate training in handling suicide-related calls, and handled emergency calls from Native Americans differently from those coming from whites -- should be decided by the court.
"The plaintiffs' allegations sufficiently state the necessary elements of their claims," Crow said.
Crow did agree, however, with the city's contention that the question of deadly force -- whether officers were justified in shooting Gregory Sevier -- should be decided in terms of its reasonableness, a standard under the Fourth Amendment dealing with search and seizure.
No trial date has been set, as both sides continue collecting evidence and testimony.
The Seviers are seeking more than $100,000 from the city, Police Chief Ron Olin, and officers George Wheeler, Ted Bordman and James Phillips.
Gregory Sevier, a Native American, was shot and killed April 21, 1991, at his parents' home by Bordman and Phillips, who were responding to a call from the 22-year-old's mother.
The Seviers say their son had locked himself in his bedroom with a knife, and that they were concerned for his welfare.
Cooley said the shooting was justified because Sevier lunged at the officers with a butcher knife.