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Civil trial opens in fatal KC police shooting

Updated: 2013-06-27T05:55:31Z

By MARK MORRIS

The Kansas City Star

A trial opened Wednesday in Jackson County in a civil lawsuit filed against a Kansas City police officer by the mother of a man the officer killed in 2008.

Officer Robert Vivona shot Terry Davis, 26, in the chest on May 8, 2008, after Davis bailed out of a truck during a high-speed chase. Vivona, who was decorated the next year for the “speed and precision” of his actions that day, has contended that he fired in self-defense after seeing Davis turn around with a gun he had taken from the pickup.

But in his opening statement, lawyer Andrew Protzman, who represents Davis’ mother, said testimony from two eyewitnesses would show that Davis was on his knees and surrendering when Vivona fired the fatal shot in a lot near the 2600 block of Norton Avenue.

“They will both tell you that Terry Davis had stopped running and had surrendered,” Protzman said.

Protzman said he would ask jurors for a “substantial, seven-figure” damage award during closing arguments, which are expected Friday.

Vivona’s lawyer, Patrick Baird, told jurors that one of the witnesses never had mentioned the surrender during interviews with police and media, while the other had given different accounts that were “impossible” to reconcile.

“Officer Vivona had to use his gun to save his life,” Baird said. “This is a case of self-defense.”

For his first witness, Protzman called a crime lab technician to give jurors the general layout of the shooting scene and the evidence. As Protzman put up a photograph that included Davis’ body, his mother, Angela Davis, began to sob.

A member of her legal team led her from the courtroom through a rear door before testimony resumed.

To reach Mark Morris, call 816-234-4310 or send email to mmorris@kcstar.com.

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