Lotto Winner Can Sue Cops Who Shot Him: High Court

Excessive force trial to move forward
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2011 5:15 PM CST
Security personnel stand guard as anti-abortion activists gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, in Washington, Monday, Jan. 24, 2011.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(Newser) – The US Supreme Court ruled that a trial for two sheriff's deputies who shot a man at his Florida home should go forward, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Robert Swofford seemed to be a pretty lucky guy—he'd won $60 million in the Florida lottery two years before a tracking dog in pursuit of carjackers mistakenly led cops to his house in April 2006. Swofford, a former Special Forces captain armed with a pistol, confronted the officers—by saying "halt," he claims, though the deputies say he raised his gun—and was shot seven times.

Swofford's suit alleges that he was shot twice, then heard a voice yell "Seminole County Sheriff’s Office"—before more shots rang out. The deputies claim to have identified themselves first, but a radio log made from their open radios shows no such thing—and, curiously, police destroyed the radios, weapons, and other evidence related to the shooting. The officers' countersuit had sought protection from a jury trial for charges of excessive force, under the doctrine of qualified immunity, but the US Supreme Court, ruling today, disagreed. The trial will move forward.

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