Thursday, April 22, 2004 | 11:10 a.m.
The FBI is looking into a Metro Police officer's killing of a man who was surrendering to authorities following a standoff in Spring Valley in February 2003.
Officer Brian Hartman shot Orlando Barlow on Feb. 28, 2003, after responding to a domestic disturbance call near Rainbow Boulevard and Russell Road. The shooting occurred while Barlow was surrendering outside a home where he was accused of holding a woman's seven children hostage.
Special Agent David Schrom, an FBI spokesman, said agents "are looking into the matter," but he said it has not yet reached the point where an official investigation has been opened.
Metro internal affairs is o conducting an investigation into the activities of Hartman and other officers in the aftermath of the shooting. Hartman has been placed on paid administrative leave, Metro officials said.
A coroner's inquest jury ruled that Hartman's fatal shooting of Barlow, 28, who was unarmed at the time, was excusable, meaning that the shooting may not have been entirely acceptable, but it was also not considered criminal.
During the inquest, Hartman testified that he shot Barlow with an assault rifle from about 50 feet away after Barlow put his hand in his waistband while kneeling on the ground. Other officers approaching Barlow to take him into custody at the time of the shooting had their sidearms holstered.
The mother of the children had called police reporting that a man with a sawed-off shotgun was at her home in the 7000 block of Rustling Wind. She said she had known Barlow for about two weeks and had him baby-sitting her seven children, police said.
The woman got into an argument with Barlow and called police from a nearby convenience store because she did not have a phone at her house.
Four officers arrived at the house, located in a quiet, middle-class neighborhood, and after 10 to 15 minutes they convinced Barlow to come out into the front yard.
Officers commanded Barlow to turn his back toward them and walk backward with his hands up, but he didn't obey police orders, a police spokesman said at the time of the shooting.
Metro has settled a federal civil rights lawsuit with Barlow's mother Sheila Barlow, police said. A settlement is subject to approval by Metro's fiscal affairs committee next month.
The suit was originally filed Feb. 17 in Clark County District Court, and was moved to federal court on March 10. The suit alleges civil rights violations and wrongful death and names Hartman and the department as defendants.
In addition to the internal affairs investigation and the FBI inquiry into Barlow's death, the Justice Department is looking into allegations of excessive force by local police officers.
A federal official with knowledge of the Justice Department inquiry described it as "very preliminary," and "not of a criminal nature."
The Justice Department's Division of Civil Rights has contacted at least four local attorneys and requested copies of civil cases filed against local police agencies, sources said.
Metro officers have killed five people this year to date. Last year Metro killed seven people.