Wednesday, October 7, 2015

City of Cleveland Appeals $5.5 Million Verdict in Death of Kenny Smith, Shot and Killed by Off-Duty Cleveland Officer in 2012

Posted By on Wed, Oct 7, 2015 at 11:48 AM

Just a few weeks after Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty requested a County Sheriff's Office review of the case of Kenny Smith, the 20-year-old who was shot and killed by an off-duty Cleveland police officer in 2012 downtown while sitting in his car, and about a month after a jury awarded $5.5 million to Smith's family in a civil suit against the officer, the city of Cleveland filed an appeal to the jury's verdict.

According to Eric Heisig at NEOMG:

The city filed its motion Tuesday afternoon, saying that it intends to have the case heard by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. In a separate filing, it also asked Chief U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. to overturn the jury's decision to find that police Office Roger Jones used excessive force when he shot Kenny Smith, 20.

The filing states that that there were numerous problems throughout the trial, which took place in September. This includes the exclusion of evidence that Smith was intoxicated during the traffic stop.

It also states that Oliver erred when blocking the exclusion of a black juror and that the amount the jury awarded to Smith's mother — $1 million in survivorship damages and $4.5 million for wrongful death — was excessive.

Scene covered the incident in a feature in 2012, focusing on Smith's budding rap career and his circle of friends and family.

It's also worth noting two things: 1) McGinty originally ruled the shooting justified, saying officer Roger Jones should be lauded for "correctly and heroically [taking] action to protect the safety of the citizens of Cleveland." Now he's ordering a review. 2) There's a separate trial matter lingering. That's for Davonta Hill, the man who was driving the car Smith was in that night. He's been charged, somehow, with murder, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated riot, tampering with evidence, discharge of a firearm near prohibited premises, two counts of failure to comply and four counts of felonious assault. His trial is slated to begin Sept. 16, but it's been postponed a million times so who knows if that'll actually happen.

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