COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – In a split ruling by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, the city of Columbus and one its former police officers were exonerated in 2017 police shooting that left a Columbus teenager dead.
The dash cam video from former Columbus Police Officer Allan Brown’s vehicle shows the night 17-year-old Christian Redwine led Columbus police on a high-speed chase in a stolen Pontiac G-6 with two friends in tow.
It ended in Phenix City, where Brown shot 21 times into the stolen car.
Redwine’s estate and two passengers that night, then 19-year-old Hunter Tillis and then 18-year-old Hannah Wuenschel sued the city and its officers.
In 2019 ruling, a U.S. District Court Judge dismissed a number of the defendants but left Brown and the city in the case.
The case centered around Redwine using the vehicle as a weapon after Brown emptied his first clip and put a second clip in his gun.
“We are not persuaded by the plaintiffs’ arguments that Officer Brown was indisputably out of harm’s way,” wrote Chief Judge William Pryor. “For the purposes of summary judgment, we accept the undisputed evidence that Officer Brown was positioned in the “V” between his police vehicle and its open driver’s door and that, as it turned out, the Pontiac drove straight back,” . Viewing that evidence in the plaintiffs’ favor, it was not unreasonable for Officer Brown to conclude at the time he fired the shots that the Pontiac posed a serious danger. When an officer is on foot and standing in close proximity to a suspect’s moving vehicle, he need not be directly in the vehicle’s path to fear reasonably for his life. It is “obvious,” in this circumstance, that the suspect could quickly turn his steering wheel and swerve toward the officer.”
Just because an officer is in the door of his police vehicle and a car moving in his direction does not guarantee an officer’s safety, Pryor reasoned.
“Being crushed between a car door and the car is little better, if at all, than being run over,” Pryor wrote.
The city was represented by Thomas Gristina and Jim Clark of the firm Page, Scrantom, Sprouse, Tucker and Ford.
“We are extremely pleased with the ruling, which we believe fully exonerates Officer Allan Brown, Chief Ricky Boren, the Consolidated Government of Columbus and its police department,” Gristina said.
The plaintiffs can petition for a rehearing from the full bench of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals or they could appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court.