Kansas City, Mo. A Jackson County jury on Thursday cleared the Kansas City Police Department and one of its officers of liability in the 2001 shooting and wounding of a boy carrying a BB gun.
The jury deliberated in the civil case for less than three hours before deciding 10-2 that officer Joshua Closson didn't use unnecessary force when, on the night of Dec. 30, 2001, he fired a shot that grazed the chin of then-15-year-old Joseph Hamilton.
Closson said he and his partner saw Joseph and his twin brother with what looked like a semiautomatic pistol. When Closson got out of his patrol car and told the boys to stop, they ran instead.
The officer said he fired his pistol after Joseph turned around with the BB gun in his hand.
Joseph's parents, Harvey and Yvette Hamilton, claimed in their lawsuit that Joseph had dropped the gun and was trying to give up. They asked jurors for $10,000 in actual damages and unspecified punitive damages.
A family court judge ruled in 2002 that Joseph did run from police but didn't point the BB gun at Closson.
The family's attorney, John Picerno, said in his closing arguments that Closson used unnecessary force and that he had given different accounts of what happened. He also said the BB gun was found 12 feet away from bloodstains showing where the boy was shot.
Virginia Murray, the attorney representing Closson and the department, said there was no blood near the gun because Joseph's clothes soaked much of it up.