FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A lawsuit has been filed against a Fort Wayne Police officer who fatally shot a man after a chase that ended with a vehicle crashed into a home two years ago.
Melina Dominguez, the personal representative of the Estate of Shaquille Kelly, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the City of Fort Wayne, the Fort Wayne Police Department, and Officer Christopher Hawthorne, who shot the 26-year-old Kelly during an incident near the intersection of Oliver and Grier streets around 2 a.m. May 22, 2019.
The situation began when Hawthorne and another officer heard gun shots in the area of Reed and Baxter streets. Those officers then saw a vehicle driving in the area and tried to pull it over.
That’s when police said the driver sped off.
After a short chase, the car crashed into the front of a vacant home near the intersection of Oliver Street and Grier Street.
After the crash, Kelly reportedly got out of the vehicle with a handgun in his hand. At that point, Hawthorne fired a shot at Kelly, killing him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Months later, the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office said Hawthorne was justified in his use of force because “he reasonably believed that force was necessary to prevent serious bodily injury or death to himself and other officers.”
In the lawsuit, Kelly’s estate alleges “failure to train, supervise, and discipline” and excessive force led to Kelly’s death.
“Plaintiff’s injuries and losses were proximately caused by Defendant Fort Wayne Police Department’s policies, practices and customs of failing to train, supervise, and discipline its police officers and to otherwise control their conduct and behavior,” the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit alleges Kelly was not a suspect in a crime and he had not committed a crime in the presence of law enforcement, and he posed no threat.
“The entire interaction between Shaquille Kelly and members of the Fort Wayne Police Department on May 22, 2019 were initiated and then escalated by said police officers and said police officers failed to avail themselves of reasonable opportunities for de-escalation and/or the use of non-lethal force while attempting to apprehend Shaquille Kelly,” the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit demands $2.5 million in damages, which “will adequately and reasonably compensate for the death of Shaquille Kelly.”
This isn’t the first time Hawthorne has been involved in a fatal shooting of a suspect. In October 2016, he shot 62-year-old Charles Eugene Antrup in the head as he lunged toward him with a knife behind the Hallmark Inn at 3738 E. Washington Blvd. Prosecutors said Hawthorne was justified in the shooting and did not file charges.