Attorney for Mitchell denies allegations in shooting case
An attorney representing the city of Mitchell denied all allegations in an unjustified death lawsuit against former Mitchell police officer Russell Stevenson, Chief of Public Safety Lyndon Overweg and the city itself.
According to court documents filed this week, the city and a representatives for the mother of a man killed by Stevenson will meet to discuss “the nature of their claims and defenses and the possibilities for a prompt settlement or resolution to the case.”
Hon Kasselder, the mother of Curtis Meyer, alleges the city unjustifiably killed her son following an incident in September 2015. Meyer was killed after he and Stevenson became involved in a struggle for Meyer’s handgun, according to police records.
The South Dakota Attorney General’s Office later cleared Stevenson of wrongdoing and said the shooting was justified.
Sioux Falls-based attorney Gary P. Thimsen filed a response on behalf of Stevenson, Overweg and the city, claiming the three parties are protected by the doctrine of qualified immunity — which the response from Thimsen said bars suit against them. Qualified immunity protects government officials from cases alleging violation of a plaintiff’s rights.
According to City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein, the city hires an attorney when a case is covered under the city’s liability insurance. The outside attorney confers with the city attorney, Ellwein said in an email to The Daily Republic.
The response to Kasselder’s case denied every allegation she set forth.
As representative of the estate of Curtis Meyer, Kasselder alleges then-37-year-old Meyer had his civil rights violated and was unreasonably restrained. Meyer was shot in the neck and died at the scene.
Stevenson is no longer employed by the city.
The incident was not recorded by Stevenson’s body worn camera because a previous officer who had used the camera did not clear the data to allow for more recording, Overweg told The Daily Republic in 2015. At the time, he did not say who was to blame for the technical error, and the department corrected the issue soon after.
The response to Kasselder’s claim, however, suggests the city did not err in training its staff.
“Specifically deny that City failed to properly train or otherwise discipline or supervise members of its police force,” the response said.