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Ruling Overturned In Tampa Police Shooting

Apr 17, 2017

A federal appeals court Friday overturned a ruling that had cleared the city of Tampa and a police officer in the shooting of a man who was suspected of being suicidal.

The decision by a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stemmed from a January 2014 incident in which police officer Timothy Bergman shot Jason Turk twice in the face as Turk sat in a car. Police had responded after receiving a 911 call that Turk, who had a gun in the car, might be suicidal.

Turk and his wife sued the city and Bergman, alleging that police had violated Turk's constitutional rights by using excessive force. A lower-court judge ruled that Turk's rights had not been violated and granted summary judgment to the city and Bergman. But the appeals court overturned that ruling, saying in part that the record of the case "demonstrates massive disputes of material fact that preclude granting summary judgment."

It sent the case back to the lower court for further proceedings.

"Viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the Turks, the evidence shows that jury issues exist as to whether Mr. Turk posed an immediate threat of serious bodily harm to the officers, which was required for Officer Bergman to use deadly force," said the decision by appeals-court judges Gerald Tjoflat, Frank Hull and Kathleen O'Malley.

The Tampa Bay Times reported in 2014 that Turk's wife called 911 because of concerns he might be suicidal. The newspaper reported that Turk was a licensed real-estate broker and Navy veteran.