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Court upholds killing by Columbus police of suspected serial rapist

See earlier story: Coroner: Suspected Rapist Died From Gunshot Wounds "80 bullets fired by police, 23 hit him"

4-21-15 Ohio:

Suspected serial rapist Abram Bynum died on a Far East Side freeway in 2009 during 20 seconds of Columbus police gunfire.

The four-year legal fight that followed between Bynum’s mother and the city now might be over after a decision favorable to the city was filed last week by a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The court found that Bynum’s rights were not violated and that the police officers were on firm legal ground when they killed him, reversing a decision that had been issued 18 months earlier by U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley.

Attorneys for Columbus had asked Marbley for a summary judgment that would end the case, arguing that the incontrovertible facts demanded that it be decided in the city’s favor.

Marbley instead found that Kathryn Pollard raised enough questions of fact that a jury might conclude that police acted recklessly and excessively when they fired 80 rounds at her son, striking him 23 times.

The Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit’s reversal of that decision ends the case unless Pollard decides to appeal. Her attorney did not return messages seeking comment.

“I don’t know if (Pollard) would attempt any further appeal of the case or not,” said Paula Jennings Lloyd, a lawyer with the civil division of the Columbus city attorney’s office. “I think the 6th Circuit speaks for itself, and it’s a very well-reasoned decision.”

Jennings Lloyd and Wendy J. Esposito of the city attorney’s claims division handled the appeal.

Bynum, 35, was shot and killed on July 7, 2009, on I-70 east of Brice Road. Columbus police were following him after an alert that he had been indicted on 19 counts as the High Desert Serial Rapist in Lancaster, Calif.

Driving a Cadillac, Bynum led police onto the freeway. The chase ended when he crossed the median and drove into westbound traffic at the Fairfield County line. A trucker said he tried to avoid Bynum’s speeding car, but Bynum mirrored his evasive moves and drove into the rig head-on.

But Bynum survived the impact. Although police said initially that he was unconscious, cruiser dash-camera video showed them jump back as if startled before firing into the car. There is a pause and then more gunfire. Officers said Bynum feigned having a gun to draw their fire in his bid for “ suicide by cop.”

In the suit Pollard filed in 2011, she alleged that the officers committed a “wanton and reckless slaughter-style execution.”

“The acts of the CPD defendants who left known safe locations, exposed themselves to unknown risk, and joined in the shooting frenzy taking place, was the product of poor tactical training and a loss of control at the scene,” her complaint stated.

In denying the city’s motion for summary judgment in 2013, Marbley wrote that “the Court does not eagerly second-guess the judgment of law-enforcement officers attempting to prevent the flight of a suspected serial rapist.”

But a jury, he said, “could find that the Defendants’ shooting of Abram Bynum was not objectively reasonable in the totality of circumstances. He could no longer flee, was unarmed, and was seriously injured.”

Officers involved in the pursuit had been alerted over the radio that Bynum had a permit to carry a concealed weapon and might be armed. But the report was mistaken; it was a twin brother who had the concealed-carry permit, and no gun was found in Bynum’s car.

Those details ultimately didn’t matter, the 6th Circuit found.

“That Bynum was actually unarmed and did not have a permit is beside the point,” Judge David McKeague wrote.

Pollard’s “claim fails because she assumes Bynum was shot to prevent his escape,” McKeague wrote. “The undisputed record shows the officers had probable cause for believing that Bynum posed a threat of serious harm, (and) the use of deadly force was constitutionally permissible.” ..Source.. by Theodore Decker

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