From [HERE] A federal judge ruled Tuesday a lawsuit against the city of Dearborn over the fatal shooting of a man by a city police officer will continue. Judge George Caram Steeh ruled that the testimony of gun experts cast enough doubt over the officer’s explanation for the shooting for the case to move to jury trial, according to the Associated Press.
Kevin Matthews was shot nine times by officer Chris Hampton during an incident in 2015. Matthews died as a result of the shooting, which Hampton said happened after Matthews reached for the officer’s gun during a struggle. However, two gun experts who analyzed evidence in the case say they believe Hampton was standing over Matthews when the shooting happened.
Matthews’ family filed a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the officer following the shooting. Hampton was never criminally charged for his actions.
David Balash, a retired state police trooper who uncovered past problems with Detroit police ballistics testing, says Kevin Matthews, 35, couldn’t have died the way Dearbon police say.
Attorneys for Matthews’ sister, Kimberly Matthews, who filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2016, hired Balash and another expert to review and possibly testify about evidence in the case.
While performing an unrelated traffic stop on Dec. 23, 2015, Dearborn Police Officer Chris Hampton spotted Matthews walking by.
Hampton knew Matthews, who had a history of mental illness and petty crime, from prior encounters. He also knew Matthews was wanted for stealing a Red Bull energy drink from a Dearborn gas station the prior night.
Hampton quickly wrapped up the traffic stop and pursued Matthews, who then ran away when Hampton exited his police vehicle, dashcam video showed.
A struggle ensued in the backyard of a nearby home. Hampton said in a deposition he was on his back with Matthews hovering over him, reaching for the officer’s firearm. Hampton pulled out his gun and fired 11 bullets in about two seconds, he said at his deposition. Nine bullets struck Matthews, who died a short time later.
“After carefully reviewing the evidence on this case the undersigned is of the opinion that the version of the shooting of Kevin Matthews could not have happened in the manner that Officer Hampton claims,” Balash wrote in an April 8, 2018 report provided to attorney Milt Greenman, who filed the lawsuit against Dearborn and Hampton.
Among Balash’s reasons for disputing the police version is the discovery of bullets beneath Matthews’ body.
“If the bullets were fired in an upward direction, as stated by Officer Hampton, how is it that three fired bullets are found underneath/near the victim?” Balash wrote. “It is not possible for the bullets to be there without having them pass through the victim, impact the pavement and (be held) in the area next to and under the victim’s body.”
Dearborn attorneys filed a motion to strike Balash’s opinion, claiming they weren’t the “product of reliable scientific principals or methods,” but U.S. Magistrate Stephanie Dawkins Davis on April 19 ruled Balash would be able to offer an expert opinion in the case.
Attorney T. Joseph Seward, who is representing Hampton and Dearborn, filed a new motion on Friday, May 3, challenging Davis’ ruling.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, based on the police investigation and Hampton’s statements, ruled the killing was justified in December 2016.
A scheduling conference is set for May 14 in the civil case.
MLive previously investigated what happened to missing audio and video recorded by the officer’s dashcam system during Matthews’ death.
While audio and video was captured leading up to the point Hampton began to chase Matthews, investigators say video from that point on was “corrupted.” [MORE]