Crime

Man shot by Lawrence police officer in 2018 sues department, city in federal court

A Lawrence man shot by a police officer during a traffic stop for a seat belt violation last summer is suing the city and police department in federal court.

The suit, which was originally filed in Douglas County District Court last month, was removed to federal court this week.

Akira Lewis claims officers from the Lawrence Police Department used excessive force when attempting to take him into custody after he asked to speak to a supervisor when he was pulled over in the 100 block of West Sixth Street in May 2018.

The police department declined to comment on the ongoing lawsuit. The city did not respond to The Star’s request for comment.

In the suit, now filed in the U.S. District Court for Kansas, Lewis said he asked to speak with the supervisor because he believed the traffic stop was racially motivated.

The officer, Ian McCann, repeatedly refused Lewis’s request and eventually called for backup, the suit said.

When former officer Brindley Blood arrived, McCann allegedly told Lewis he was going to jail and the two began to forcibly remove him from his car.

When Lewis left the vehicle, the suit says, he got in a physical altercation with McCann before Blood shot him in the back.

Blood said in court in March that she shot Lewis by accident. Lewis was on top of McCann at the time of the shooting and Blood said she mistakenly grabbed her gun instead of her Taser when she shot Lewis.

She shouted “Taser, Taser, Taser” before firing the weapon.

Charges in police shooting

Both Blood and Lewis were criminally charged after the incident.

Blood was charged with reckless aggravated battery. Her case was dismissed in March after a judge ruled there was no probable cause that she had acted recklessly. Blood resigned from the Lawrence Police Department in January.

Lewis pleaded no contest to battery on a law enforcement officer in August and was sentenced to 12 months of probation.

In the suit, Lewis says Lawrence officers never contacted his wife after he was shot and she wasn’t allowed to see him in the hospital because he was considered to be in custody.

He said he has suffered medical damages, lost wages and emotional distress as a result of the shooting.

McCann and Blood, the City of Lawrence, the police department and Lawrence Police Chief Gregory Burns are listed as defendants in the suit.

The suit alleges excessive force, failure to train and supervise, negligence, battery and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

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Katie Bernard covers Kansas crime, cops and courts for the Kansas City Star. She joined the Star in May of 2019. Katie studied journalism and political science at the University of Kansas.
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