GLASGOW – A sheriff’s deputy shot while on duty last February and his wife are suing the city of Glasgow, its police department and a now retired captain and former officer of that department regarding the incident.
The civil lawsuit was filed in Barren Circuit Court this week on behalf of Barren County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Joseph Ford and his wife Katja, seeking a judgment against the four defendants, via a jury trial, for a monetary award for all damages, including permanent paralysis of his left arm; pain and suffering; loss of enjoyment of life, past and future medical bills; life care expenses; past, present and future wages; permanent impairment of power to earn money; and Katja’s loss of consortium damages, legal costs, interest and punitive damages.
Two Madisonville law firms are listed on the complaint document.
The Feb. 23 incident began with an attempted traffic stop by then-GPD Officer Zane Greer on the Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway that led to a chase that ended in a residential portion of Glasgow.
Barren County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Joseph Ford was among those responding to assist with the chase, and in the process of the arrest of Jonathan Shelton, the suspect, Ford was shot. He is still on medical leave from the sheriff’s office.
Shelton was initially charged with one count of first-degree assault on a police officer, one count of third-degree assault on a police officer, three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment (police officer) and several traffic charges. The first-degree assault charge was amended to first-degree wanton endangerment as part of a plea agreement, with the other charges remaining, and Shelton was sentenced in September to serve eight years. He’ll be eligible for parole after 20 percent of that and received credit for time served.
The lawsuit alleges that Greer approached the driver’s side of Shelton’s vehicle, a PT Cruiser, and “physically removed him from his vehicle,” and then “was positioned outside the open driver’s side door and was squared up with Mr. Shelton.”
It states that Ford approached the passenger side but then was positioned on the top of Shelton’s car assisting Greer.
“Defendant Greer then began using his firearm as an impact weapon and repeatedly struck Mr. Shelton in the head. Despite Mr. Shelton’s plea for Defendant Greer to stop and his clear acknowledgement that he was not being combative, Defendant Greer continued to use his firearm as an impact weapon to hit Mr. Shelton. As Defendant Greer was using his firearm as an impact weapon, he fired a shot, which resulted in Joseph being shot in the face,” the complaint alleges.
The document states that Greer lacked the experience, training or knowledge to safely and effectively apprehend Shelton and that he “failed to address any alternatives other than direct physical contact” with Shelton.
“Based on his duties, training, City of Glasgow police and procedures, widely accepted practices and rules known in his field, and common law, Defendant Greer: a) knew or should have known to not use excessive force, b) knew or should have known to not use his firearm during the physical exchange, c) knew or should have known to not use his firearm as an impact weapon, d) knew or should have known to not have his finger on the firearm’s trigger while using the firearm as a means of force, and e) knew or should have known not to discharge his weapon when another officer was in close proximity,” the lawsuit alleges, adding that Greer breached his duties by firing the gun inappropriately in that scenario, by pointing his gun in the direction of an officer, by using excessive force and by discharging his firearm “in a manner that unreasonably put Joseph’s life, safety and health at risk.”
Charles “Charlie” Lowery, a GPD captain at the time oversaw Greer and breached his duties by failing to supervise Greer and failing to have him properly trained, the document states, and the city and the police department breached their duties “by failing to provide the required oversight, training, management and control over its employees, including Defendants Captain Lowery and Defendant Greer.”
Lowery retired last year from GPD but has since begun employment with the Barren County Sheriff’s Office.
The civil action claims that as a result of these alleged breaches of their respective duties, Ford suffered severe harm, including paralysis of his left arm, and it claims that all the defendants were negligent.
Glasgow City Attorney Danny Basil did not respond to an electronic message Thursday providing the opportunity for him to comment on the lawsuit, and Lowery, reached via telephone, declined to comment.
Greer, who returned a call to the newspaper after a message was left with his current employer, the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office, said Thursday he needed time to process the news of the lawsuit, about which he’d just received notice that day, so there wasn’t much he could say about it.
“It was a bad night; it was a bad night,” Greer said. “Joseph Ford is a friend of mine. Nobody knows how bad I hate this situation.”