The city of Killeen and one of the four police officers being sued in a no-knock death case asked the federal judge again to dismiss the case against them, with the officer asking for qualified immunity.
James “Scottie” Reed, 40, was killed by a single bullet on Feb. 27, 2019, during a no-knock SWAT raid at his house at 215 W. Hallmark Ave. in north Killeen. The family alleges that multiple officers fired shots into the house and that Reed was armed but did not fire his handgun.
The federal civil rights lawsuit, filed by Reed’s mother on May 27, names the city of Killeen, Anthony Custance, Richard A. Hatfield Jr., Fred L. Baskett and Christian Suess as defendants.
In a pair of rulings last month, U.S. District Judge Alan Albright gave the green light to the Reed family’s case when he refused to dismiss the lawsuit. Albright’s written opinion shows that the judge was unconvinced of the defense of “qualified immunity,” a concept that has spelled the end for many past lawsuits against law enforcement agencies or individual officers.
In his March 31 ruling, Albright states that the available evidence shows that Reed was the victim of excessive force.
Last year, all five defendants filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit.
City, officer argue to dismiss
In an 11-page motion to dismiss, which was filed with the federal court on April 13, Custance’s attorney argues that the Reed family is not entitled to damages.
“Custance is entitled to and asserts hereby the defense of qualified immunity,” according to the motion, which makes similar arguments to his first motion to dismiss that was filed on July 10.
The former KPD officer also asks the judge to dismiss the case against him because he did not fire the shot that killed Reed. It is not known which officer fired that shot.
“Custance did not fire the shot that caused Mr. Reed’s death, so the act of a third person was the intervening cause of Mr. Reed’s death,” according to the motion.
After Albright’s March ruling, the city of Killeen’s attorney filed a “supplemental motion to dismiss” on April 9. The city filed its first motion to dismiss on July 14, court records show.
“The city of Killeen … (is) seeking to dismiss all conspiracy allegations against the city,” according to the five-page motion. “(Reed’s mother) has not alleged any agreement involving the city itself with any other defendant or other person or entity.”
The judge has not ruled on the two recent motions or the motions to dismiss filed by Hatfield, Baskett and Suess last year.
After the judge has ruled on all motions in the case, the process known as “discovery” will commence.
Then “the case will really get started,” Dallas civil rights attorney Daryl Washington, who is representing Dianne Reed-Bright, previously said.
The family has requested a jury trial.