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Plaintiff turns up the heat on Mitchell PD officer deemed 'justified' in killing Curtis Meyer

The Mitchell Department of Public Safety serves as the home to an assortment of local agencies. (Republic file photo)

An attorney representing the estate of Curtis Meyer questioned several details in the investigation that followed Meyer's 2015 death at the hands of a Mitchell police officer.

In a deluge of documents filed by attorney Stephanie Pochop this week, Meyer's mother and representative of his estate Hon Kasselder disputes several pieces of information from the response to an "unjustified death" lawsuit against the city of Mitchell, Chief of Public Safety Lyndon Overweg and former Mitchell Officer Russ Stevenson.

Meyer, 37 at the time of his death, was shot and killed by Stevenson during a quarrel over Meyer's handgun at a house party.

Stevenson was later deemed justified by the state attorney general's office for shooting and killing Meyer in September 2015, and Stevenson said he feared for his life during the struggle.

This week's dispute highlights Stevenson's inability to record the incident on his body-worn camera, which Mitchell Police argued shortly after the incident was because the camera's memory wasn't cleared to allow for further recording. Pochop's response on behalf of Kasselder disputes that claim, citing an independent review by the state Division of Criminal Investigation.

"The DCI and the deputy observed no files in the camera. According to the deputy, no files in the camera indicated that the camera had been properly uploaded," court documents state. "If true, this would create an inference that some reason other than a full file is the reason that Stevenson video of the fatal shooting is not available."

Stevenson has repeatedly maintained he attempted to turn on his camera before the incident.

Pochop also disputes the statement that "Stevenson could not radio for assistance or use his duty weapon at this time for fear of giving up control of Meyer's weapon," is factual. Pochop again cites DCI records in which Stevenson "said that once the struggle was on, he could not use his radio to ask for assistance because someone else was on the radio."

Kasselder has argued this case as a violation of her son's civil rights, and Pochop counters the defense's argument that they are shielded from liability.

In a separate document, Pochop frames the case as an instance of "excessive force."

"Based on these considerations, the court should reject Stevenson's claims that his aggressive approach to an innocent bystander (or in this case, a quiet, cross-legged sitter) fell within any acceptable bounds of the exercise of reasonable force," court documents state.

Police had been called to the scene for a "noise complaint," where Meyer was found sitting on the ground with a firearm.

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