City of Benton and Former Police Chief Fight Against $32 Million Verdict in Fatal Shooting Case

Benton City, Arkansas – The City of Benton and its legal representatives have requested that the US District Court overturn the jury’s verdicts against former Benton Police Chief Kirk Lane and the city. This comes after a jury awarded $32 million to the parents of a teenager killed by a Benton police officer in 2016, following a weeklong trial in Little Rock.

The jury held the city of Benton liable for $30 million, with $15 million attributed to the failure to train its officers and another $15 million for the failure to investigate the fatal shooting. Former Police Chief Kirk Lane was found liable for $1 million for failure to train his officers and an additional $1 million for neglecting to investigate the shooting. However, Officer Kyle Ellison, the individual who fired the fatal shots, was cleared of claims relating to excessive force, assault, and battery.

Attorney Gabrielle Gibson of the Arkansas Municipal League has filed a motion arguing that the insufficient evidence provided in court does not support the claims of failure to train and failure to investigate, particularly in light of the jury’s findings on the excessive force and assault and battery allegations against Ellison. The motion claims that without an underlying constitutional violation, the City and Lane cannot be held accountable for these claims.

Furthermore, the defendants argue that there was no evidence presented during the trial to demonstrate a pattern of failure to train or failure to investigate, which should absolve them of liability. The motion, supported by Gibson’s brief, requests that the court grant judgment in favor of the defendants and that qualified immunity be granted for Lane.

It remains to be seen how the court will respond to the request made by the City of Benton and its legal team. The outcome of this case has implications not only for the parties involved but also for the broader discussions surrounding police training, accountability, and the use of excessive force.