Jimmy Gates with the Clarion-Ledger reported on a $1 million verdict in Hinds County on Friday in a case alleging Jackson police mishandled a 911 call:

A Hinds County Circuit Court jury has awarded $1 million to the family of a 67-year-old Jackson woman killed in 2014 after family members and others say Jackson police bungled the woman’s 911 call about a prowler.

“If they would have followed policy and procedures, more likely than not, it would have saved her life,” said attorney Dennis Sweet III, who represented Ruth Helen Harrion’s family members….

The lawsuit said that after Harrion called 911 to report a prowler, the dispatcher failed to keep her on the phone, failed to ask the location of the prowler and whether she could see the prowler. The suit also said officers dispatched to Harrion’s residence failed to make contact with her and failed to search the perimeter of the home prior to leaving the residence.

Alonzo Stewart, 33, is charged with capital murder in Harrion’s death. He confessed to the crime, according to authorities, and told police he was in Harrion’s home when the officers came and left.

Then-Jackson Police Chief Lindsey Horton said in 2014 that JPD mishandled the case. At the time, he told the Clarion Ledger that the two officers failed to thoroughly check the property from which the call had originated….

Dennis Sweet of Jackson represented the plaintiff. Assistant City Attorney Richard Davis represented the City.

Hinds Circuit Judge Adrienne Wooten presided in the case.

  • Michael Wolf

    I wish there were more details. How is a jury deciding a Tort Claim Case in a state court? If this was a civil rights case (where there could be a jury), why was it not removed to the federal court? And, if it is a state law claim, what became of the “reckless disregard” standard?…. I suspect the appeals will answer these and other questions.

    • Macy Hanson

      I have the same questions. MTCA cases are tough, for these reasons. Also, if this was an MTCA case (you would think that it had to be), why didn’t Judge Wooten apply the $500k damage cap?

    • randywallace

      TCA claim coupled with 1983 claims. Horrible facts. As for why it wasn’t removed—–the City might have felt confident with Judge Weill back when the case was originally filed.

      • Pieter T

        If the City ever felt confident with Judge Weill, they were misguided. Weill was on the City Council as the lone conservative voice before assuming the circuit bench. Took a fair number of barbs from other council members, and was generally ignored. On occasion, he reminded listeners of his experiences.

        Now, this is not to mean he couldn’t be fair to the City. But if you are the City, why risk that when you can have a federal district judge who routinely handles 1983/immunity cases in a conservative circuit? And if a claim survives to a jury trial, a more conservative jury.

        It’s a head scratcher; one might almost think it was . . . Nah, now I’m starting to think like Grisham. Regardless, not an optimum litigation strategy for a bad set of facts. Echoing Mr. Wolf, the appeals process is worth following.

        • Michael Wolf

          I can see why a jury would do this, but wonder how it got to a jury. Can the Plaintiff hold on to this award? If it was a civil rights case, what “policy, practice, or custom” could possibly have served as the moving force behind a constitutional violation, and for that matter what was the constitutional right? But, I am not so proud to think Dennis Sweet has not got that figured out. He is good at his job.
          We may all learn something on this one.

          • Gulf Stream

            Could be a “failure to train” case.