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KC Officer – Not Liable

KC officer not liable in shooting
PUBLICATION: Kansas City Star, The (MO)

DATE: July 15, 2005

Page: B1
A Jackson County jury found a Kansas City police officer and the police department not liable Thursday in the shooting of a 15-year-old boy armed with a BB gun.

Jurors deliberated less than three hours in the civil case before deciding on a 10-2 vote that Officer Joshua Closson did not use more force than was reasonably necessary when he fired a bullet that grazed the chin of Joseph Hamilton on Dec. 30, 2001.

Joseph and his twin brother were out at about 10 p.m. near their home when Closson and his partner saw them near 25th Street and Jackson Avenue. Joseph had a BB gun that looked like a semiautomatic pistol.

Closson got out of the police cruiser and yelled for the boy to stop. Instead, Joseph ran, both sides agreed.

Closson said he shot after the boy turned with the gun in his hand. The lawsuit filed by Joseph’s parents, Yvette and Harvey Hamilton, contended Joseph had tossed the gun and was turning to surrender. The plaintiffs asked for about $10,000 in actual damages and unspecified punitive damages.

In 2002, a Family Court judge ruled that the boy had fled from the officer but did not point the weapon at him.

In closing arguments Thursday, Joseph’s lawyer, John Picerno, said Closson had used unnecessary force. He also said the officer had given varying stories about what happened.

Picerno noted that the BB gun was found about 12 feet from where bloodstains indicated Joseph was shot.

Virginia Murray, representing Closson and police, said there was no blood near the gun because Joseph’s clothes had soaked it up at first, before he moved.

She held up the BB gun and a police service pistol, noted how much they looked alike and described how much time Closson had had to decide what to do.

“Six to 10 seconds – that’s how fast it all went down,” she said.

To reach Joe Lambe, Jackson County courts reporter, call (816) 234-4314 or send e-mail to jlambe@kcstar.com.

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