COLUMBUS (WCMH) — An appeals court has reversed a judgment that gave two Columbus Police officers qualified immunity in the shooting death of 23-year-old Henry Green V.
Green, 23, was shot and killed during a confrontation with undercover Columbus Police Officers Zachary Rosen and Jason Bare, who were in plainclothes, in South Linden in June of 2016.
In 2017, Green’s mother filed a lawsuit against the two officers and the City of Columbus, alleging wrongful death, excessive force, and constitutional violations, but a federal judge dismissed that lawsuit.
The three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed the actions of the two officers again and issued its reversal Tuesday.
The reversal of the previous judgment was based on the last shots the officers fired at Green.
The family’s attorney said they deserve justice and closure and that’s what they’re fighting for.
In a statement from Sean Walton, the attorney representing Henry Green’s family, said:
“The decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is the latest chapter in the long fight for justice on behalf of Henry Green V. The Court decided that there are circumstances surrounding Henry’s death that deserve to be heard and decided by a jury. From the beginning that is all we have asked for – to have an opportunity for the many witnesses to Henry’s death to tell the story of what they saw that day and for Officers Jason Bare and Zachary Rosen to be held accountable for their actions. The family deserves justice and closure and that is what we will continue fighting for.”Sean Walton, attorney
This comes four years after Rosen and Bare shot and killed Green in a shootout in June of 2016. It was on the first day of the city’s anti-gang Summer Strike Force.
The officers were not indicted by a grand jury in connection with the case and an internal investigation cleared them.
Green’s mother then filed a lawsuit against the City of Columbus and the two officers, claiming the officers used excessive force, which is based on witness accounts at the scene.
Last year, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying it was reasonable to use deadly force under the circumstances faced by the officers.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, in its decision, wrote:
“Several witnesses stated that the Officers here continued to shoot Green after he dropped his gun and was falling or already down on the ground. Our precedents provide ‘fair warning’ to the Officers that shooting at Green after he was no longer a safety threat is unconstitutional. Officers Rosen and Bare are not entitled to qualified immunity on summary judgment.”
Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein sent a statement regarding the decision which reads:
“The City Attorney’s Office takes these cases very seriously, with truth and the pursuit of justice as our primary goals. We are still reviewing this decision in its entirety to decide the appropriate course of action based on the court’s ruling,”
Out of the three judges, there was one dissenting opinion saying that the exchange of gunfire was brief, and the officers fired all of their rounds within a period of approximately five seconds. He couldn’t agree that the officers had time “to stop and reassess the threat level” before the last shots were fired.