Lawsuit Claims Ottawa Police Used Excessive Force in Shooting of Unarmed Man


OTTAWA, Kan. – The brother of an 18-year-old man shot and killed by police in 2014 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the case saying responding officers used “excessive force”.

In August of 2014, family members said 18-year-old Joseph Jennings was shot and killed by police only hours after receiving hospital treatment following a suicide attempt.

According to lawsuit documents, Jennings had a history of mental illness and suffered with depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and pseudo seizures.

He tried to commit suicide twice in 2014 by consuming an excessive amount of prescription pills, with the last attempt coming the day before the police shooting.

On August 23, 2014, the lawsuit says Jennings called police to report a man waiving a gun in the parking lot of Orscheln’s Farm and Home hardware store on South Princeton Street.

It was later determined that Jennings described a man fitting his own description, and he concealed a pair of sunglasses on his waist.

After police arrived, lawsuit documents describe a tense standoff.

The officers warned Jennings multiple times to show both of his hands, to which Jennings did not comply.

The lawsuit documents describe how family members of Jennings showed up during the standoff in hopes of talking with him.

However, the parents claim police did not let them assist and cursed at them while telling the two to leave.

The lawsuit claims police fired beanbags at Jennings several times during the standoff.

After being knocked to the ground by a beanbag, Jennings pulled his left hand out from his waist band while pointing a pair of black sunglasses at responding officers.

In response, police fired 29 shots at Jennings after 17 minutes of the standoff.

After the shooting, police determined that Jennings was unarmed during the standoff and they had mistaken the sunglasses for a gun.

The lawsuit documents also claim that several of the shots fired by police hit a home located near the parking lot where the standoff occurred.

The documents state bullets were found in a baby’s pillow inside the living room of the home, as well as in a window valance and outside shutter.

The lawsuit filed last week by the brother of Jennings accuses responding officers from the Ottawa Police Department and Franklin County Sheriff’s Office of using “excessive force”.

The lawsuit also says the City of Ottawa and the Board of Commissioners for Franklin County did not properly train law enforcement for cases involving persons with mental illness.

The family hopes to receive at least $75,000 in compensatory damages for each count against the defendants and has requested a jury trial for the case.

It is unknown when the trial will begin.