Thomas v. City of Columbus, No. 16-3375 (6th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Thomas’s apartment door opened to a breezeway that led to a parking lot. When two men broke through Destin’s door. Destin called 911 from his bedroom and spoke quietly to avoid drawing the burglars’ attention. The men forced their way into Destin’s room. A struggle ensued. Columbus officers responded. Officer Kaufman, the first to arrive, had been alerted that the caller was inside a bedroom, that multiple suspects were inside, and that there was yelling and crashing noises. The complex was in a high-crime area; Kaufman, expecting a gun might be involved, unholstered his weapon. As Kaufman approached the breezeway, two men exited Destin’s apartment and ran toward him. The first had a gun in his hand. Kaufman stopped about 40 feet from Destin’s door, shouted, and fired two shots at the person with the gun. The second suspect fled. Kaufman never administered aid to the wounded man, later saying that he considered it unsafe to do so with an active crime scene and that the suspect appeared to be dead. The person that Kaufman shot was Destin, who had disarmed a burglar before fleeing. Destin died. When the next officer arrived, Kaufman stated, “I think this was the homeowner.” The burglar that fled was captured, but refused to testify. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the summary judgment rejection of Destin’s estate’s claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging excessive force and deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.