Federal Judge Brian Miller has issued a summary judgment in favor of the city of Little Rock and retired Police Chief Stuart Thomas in Perkins v. Hastings, a suit claiming that the city and the chief failed to train, discipline and supervise Officer Josh Hastings. Hastings was the officer who was tried twice for manslaughter in the shooting of Bobby Moore; both trials ended in mistrials.
Hastings was responding to a suspicious persons call at Shadow Lake Apartments in August 2012 when he found Moore, 15, and two other teenagers in a car. Hastings shot and killed Moore as Moore drove his car toward the officer. Hastings was fired in October after an internal affairs investigation by police determined he had testified untruthfully and his use of deadly force did not conform to policy.
Hastings remains a defendant in the suit, brought by Sylvia Perkins on behalf of Moore’s estate.
A letter to the Little Rock Board of Directors from City Attorney Tom Carpenter explains the ruling:
Dear Mayor Stodola and Members of the Board of Directors,U.S. District Judge Brian Miller granted retired Chief Stuart Thomas and the City of Little Rock summary judgment in the above case. This case stems from an officer involved shooting.Officer Josh Hastings, while responding to a call about breaking and entering, shot Mr. Bobby Moore while Mr. Moore drove a automobile towards the officer. The officer was terminated because the shooting did not conform with LRPD Deadly Force policy – which is one of the most restrictive in the nation – and, was subsequently tried twice for manslaughter. After two mistrials, the prosecuting attorney chose not to pursue another trial.
The claims against the City were for failure to train, failure to discipline, and failure to supervise. Judge Miller pointed out that the training program of LRPD is such that there is no valid failure to train allegation. Further, there was no failure to supervise involved. Judge Miller also rejected a pattern or practice on the use of deadly force, and an allegation against the City and a failure to discipline. Among other things, the Court held that there was discipline in most of the cases cited. The plaintiff, represented by Mike Laux of California, tried to use the Ellison case as an indication of improper training and supervision. The Court rejected any use of this case and said only that there had been a ruling on qualified immunity, but because the case was settled it was pure speculation to state what facts would have been determined by a jury.
This case is now being handled by the AMLDF [the Arkansas Municipal League’s defense program]. John Wilkerson and Amanda LeFever prepared and filed the summary judgment motion. It is not known if the trial against Mr. Hastings will continue, but the City is not a defendant in this matter anymore. In light of recent U.S. Supreme Court cases on qualified immunity, it is highly unlikely that any appeal would be successful.
Please let me know if you have any questions.