Tuesday, June 24, 2014 | 6:45 p.m.
A federal judge today ruled that a lawsuit against a Metro Police officer who shot a man in his garage four years ago may proceed, rejecting efforts from the police department's attorneys to have the case dismissed.
U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey said a jury must decide whether Officer Scott Tompkins used excessive force when he fired nine rounds at Juan Antonio Solis-Diaz after a brief pre-dawn confrontation at the plaintiff's home on April 22, 2010.
Solis-Diaz's attorneys, who initially filed the suit against Metro in 2012, agreed today to drop claims of negligence, negligent supervision, intentional infliction of emotional distress and battery against Tompkins. But the plaintiff still seeks $10,000 in damages for what his attorney Kirk Kennedy called a determined effort to "put (Solis-Diaz) down" even as the plaintiff lowered his unloaded weapon.
Metro attorney Thomas Dillard argued that the case should be dismissed altogether because Tompkins acted reasonably given the set of circumstances he faced that morning.
Solis-Diaz's neighbors called police about 2:30 a.m. to report that they heard screaming coming from the man's home in the 2800 block of McLeod Drive, near Sahara Avenue, according to a complaint filed by his attorneys.
Tompkins, the first officer to arrive at the location, initially stopped a vehicle that was near the plaintiff's driveway before letting the driver go.
The plaintiff said he heard strange noises coming from the front of his home, so he grabbed an unloaded rifle, walked into his garage and opened the automated door.
After a brief exchange between the men, Tompkins fired his weapon, striking Solis-Diaz once on the right hand and once on the buttocks.
Kennedy contends that his client could not hear Tompkins identifying himself as an officer, nor could he see his vehicle and uniform before the garage door fully opened. He said Solis-Diaz raised his arms and tried to back away once he realized Tompkins was a policeman, but the officer kept shooting anyway.
Solis-Diaz was subsequently arrested on charges for assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer and resisting a police officer with a weapon, but that case was dismissed.