Monday, April 06, 2015

Russell family, City of Joplin settle lawsuit

The lawsuit filed by the family of a suicide victim against the Joplin Police Department has been settled.

A stipulation of dismissal with prejudice was filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri by Kevin and Julissa Russell and their son, Brant.

The filing contained no information about the amount of the settlement.

The Russells initially filed their action against the City of Joplin, the Joplin Police Department, and officers Austin Wolf and Tyler Christiansen July 8, 2013, in Jasper County Circuit Court. The case was later moved to federal court and since the police department is part of the City of Joplin it was dismissed as a defendant.

The events of the evening were described in the Russell family's petition:

On March 17, 2013, Brooke Russell left her home indicating she was going
for some exercise.

When she did not return home timely, her mother, Julissa Russell, went looking for Brooke and found her in a park, the apparent victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to her head. Mrs. Russell, along with her husband, plaintiff Kevin Russell, and their son, Brant Russell, loaded Brooke into their car and left for the hospital.

En route to the hospital, they called 911, and the 911 operator advised them to go to the Joplin Police Department, where there would be an ambulance waiting for them. The ambulance, police and fire department had all been advised prior to the Russells’ arrival that the Russells were en route with the victim of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

When the Russells arrived at the Joplin Police Department, they saw the ambulance and carried Brooke to the back of the ambulance, where they had to wait for the ambulance door to be opened and a gurney to be pulled out and presented to them.

They quickly placed Brooke on the gurney, stepped back and pleaded for the emergency personnel to get Brooke to the hospital for treatment. Rather than immediately leave for the hospital, emergency personnel left Brooke unattended on the gurney and began to question the Russells about what happened, becoming confrontational about the Russells’ agitation with the delay in getting treatment for Brooke.

As the Russells continued to plead for the EMT’s to do their jobs and get Brooke to the hospital, Brooke’s body rolled off the gurney and fell to the concrete pavement below. At no time did either Kevin Russell or Brant Russell assault with any first responder, engage in any physical altercation, obstruct the first responders from doing their jobs, or violate any other laws or ordinances.

The Russells continued to urge the EMT’s to provide care for Brooke, and EMT Todd Woods became physically aggressive with Kevin Russell, aggressively approaching Mr. Russell, threatening and yelling at him while Brooke lay on the ground.

At that point, defendants Wolf and Christensen assaulted Brant Russell and Kevin Russell, by spraying their faces with mace or pepper spray, physically assaulting them and placing them in handcuffs with no justification. Defendants Wolf and Christensen then placed Kevin and Brant Russell in a police car, placed them under arrest and held them in the Joplin Police Station for nearly three hours.

While Kevin and Brant Russell were held in the Joplin Police Station, Brooke Russell died at the hospital.

Defendants made false reports to the prosecutor regarding plaintiffs’ conduct and encouraged the prosecutor to pursue criminal charges against plaintiffs, which the prosecutor did. However, after the prosecutor withdrew from the criminal case and was replaced by an independent special prosecutor, the criminal charges against Kevin and Brant Russell were dismissed by the special prosecutor.

A representative of the Joplin Police Department also made an improper and inaccurate report to the United States Military that was falsely derogatory of Brant Russell regarding the events described herein, and directly caused Brant to be discharged from his military service, thus ending his planned and desired military career.

As a direct and proximate result of the actions of officers Wolf and Christensen, and by extension, defendants City of Joplin and Joplin Police Department, Kevin Russell suffered severe physical and emotional injuries as a direct result of the assault and his subsequent improper and unlawful arrest and detention in the police station. He further suffered embarrassment and humiliation as a result of the false allegations leveled at him by defendants. His ability to perform his normal functions as a husband were negatively affected.

As a direct and proximate result of the actions of officers Wolf and Christensen, and by extension, defendants City of Joplin and Joplin Police Department, Brant Russell suffered severe physical and emotional injuries as a direct result of the assault and his subsequent improper and unlawful arrest and detention in the police station. He further suffered embarrassment and humiliation as a result of the false allegations leveled at him by defendants. He further suffered a loss of his career and income with the United States Military as a direct result of the actions of a representative and agent of defendants City of Joplin and Joplin Police Department in falsely reporting allegations of misconduct against him to his superiors with the military/

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ridiculous

Anonymous said...

What is ridiculous is the unprofessional, negligent, inhumane way the police and EMTs acted toward this family at the time of this tragic event.

I hope the EMTs and officers involved were severely disciplined for their actions. Obviously, nothing will bring their daughter back nor will anything take away the additional trauma this family had to endure at the hands of those who are here to "protect and serve."

Anonymous said...

Such BS. The Russel men were causing the problems and they shouldn't have gotten a dime, especially when Brooks father treated her like crap.

Anonymous said...

Agreed!

Dusty Roads said...

I would hope they fired every EMT and policeman that was involved in this fiasco.

Anonymous said...

That is very sad. Anonymous. Bet you wouldnt say that if it was your daughter or sister. Have some respect for the Russel family. These cops are above the law and think they can do whatever they please. Not right. Sorry for the Russel Fanilys loss.

Kay R. said...

My heart goes out to the true victim who has gotten lost in such a ridiculous "urinating match." The focus should be on the young life that was taken too soon, tragically & unnecessarily. This child would never had wanted such a scandal. What type of person would allow this to go so far?

Anonymous said...

I didn't treat Brooke bad, I loved her more than anything and we had a great relationship. As far as the Russell men causing it. I don't even know what to say. We were all trying to save her life and get her life saved. Kevin Russell

Anonymous said...

The focus here is lost! Our EMS/JPD would never let a child die intentionally. To suggest care was withheld to harass is absurd! This poor girl needed help weeks before this incident! More focus should be given as to how to stop depression and suicide among our youth. Be proactive not reactive. Do not blame those who serve us!

Anonymous said...

I went to school with Brooke and to say her father treated her bad is ridiculous. Brooke was a bright shining soul that should have sat in the seats during graduation. Brooke was my friend, she helped me through a lot and you will probably never understand the pain it caused me to loose her. Get your facts straight before you comment

Anonymous said...

I cannot even imagine losing a child...my heart goes out to anyone that has. All that can be taken from this is to put our children first. Listen to them & talk to them. Parents should spend less time on social media and more time with their children; be present!

Anonymous said...

no one said jpd or the emts intentionally let a child die. As a matter of fact no one said it was their fault she died. Did they do a horrible job? Yes. Did they try to cover that up? Yes.

Anonymous said...

Anyone can speculate the on the occurrences of that day...there are 3 sides to every situation- COJ, Russell's, & the truth. No one is perfect and sure wrongs could have been made, thus the reason of the given situation! Sometimes bad things happen and no one is to blame...

Brian Byrd said...

No they took the focus off of her and placed on the family. That's where the emt's were negligent. The jpd assaulted the family instead of helping. They have to make snap decisions all the time, and they were wrong. It's called accountability and they aren't above it.

jansmiley said...

Kevin, idiots like that deserve no response. Those of us who know you and your family know the truth. Brooke was loved unconditionally and immensely!

Anonymous said...

Disagree with a cover- up. That is so ignorant! Definite loss of focus on this!

Anonymous said...

Your daughter ran away the week before... you had more family problems than you care to let on! She shouldn't have had access to your gun when you damn well knew something was wrong... But then again, that's what's wrong with parents these days... they never want to take any blame.

Anonymous said...

Jpd and emt/ paramedics were not to blame for this in any way. Everybody has a different story. Nobody sees the emts after the loss of a patient and the tears they cry. They faught hard and were very bothered! Shame on you for painting auch an unfair and ridiculous picture of people who make not much money at all and do everything they can to save lives including hers!!!! It is a sad situation for anyone to take their own life especially that young but to act like you are completely innocent and didnt act out or punch holes in the walls at the hospital is a bold faced lie... tell both sides why dont ya!

Anonymous said...

Obviously the JPD and the EMTs did share in the responsibility and did not do the right thing in this case. Otherwise, this suit would have gone nowhere and they wouldn't have had to settle with the family.

Anonymous said...

I think it her dad is fishing for attention with this. It's VERY sad that her life was ended. But it's NOT just fault. There were a lot of emotions going on. And I'm sorry, but money won't bring her back. Neither will saying joplins EMTS and police officer are bad. They tried.

Anonymous said...

I 100% agree. It's sad that you're taking out your lose and emotions on someone else. It doesn't look good when a grown man talks bad about the people that were trying to help you on Facebook

Anonymous said...

Whatever the payout was, give it to charity

Anonymous said...

I usually stand behind our law enforcement as their jobs are anything but normal, but in this case THEY were in the wrong. This was an incredible injustice and I for one am glad someone finally has stood up to our finest. I will and still do have respect for our JPD/EMS, but now they know that we ALL are watching. I hope there will never be another mistake like this made EVER again. EMS should have never allowed that poor girl to fall off that gurney PERIOD !!! The focus should have been on her, NOT the Russells. I hope the Russell family can now put the legal side behind them and begin to heal, as they should have been allowed to do at the time.

Anonymous said...

The people on this that are saying such hurtful and complete non sense instead of blowing up I'm gonna pray for you! Bc you need it for having no sympathy and for saying the things you have! Do you know this family!? Were you there to witness this all? Have you lost a child? If you went through this you wouldn't be saying the things you have! I've sat there and watched my family cry and weep and the days seemed to drag! I've wiped my fiances tears when he didn't wanna move! This family has gone through enough. And to make Brooke's father out to be the bad person shame on you!!! You have no idea the things that have gone through this families heads. Kevin loved Brooke more than life itself and if ️love could have saved her she would of never died! Bc that family loves and misses her more than anything! It isn't about money! I know this for a fact bc I've been here since day one with this family! They should have never had to go public about this but there was no choice after the way they were treated! Money is the last thing they wanted! They want Brooke back! We all do but we faced reality and realized that will never happen! So instead of being so arrogant and rude have a heart and pray for this family! And remember I'll be praying for you!!! Amber Carnes- fiancĂ© of brant russell

Anonymous said...

6:12

Shame on you. Suicide is nobody's fault. It is the result of mental illness and makes no sense and cannot be rationalized. I cannot believe you would post such a comment. Why such hatred in your heart? Have some compassion.

big black said...

The officers store is probably alot different than Kevins....I have all the trust and confident in the Joplin police department..

big black said...

the officers involved did a fine job...I have all the trust in the world in the Joplin police department

Anonymous said...

To Kevin and Brant....
I'm so sorry that these officers and the City could not treat a living soul any more different than a rat. I hope that some day, with some time, there is justice for angel Brooke. I do NOT support any actions made by the JPD or this city EVERY and I NEVER will. As a strong community, we are supposed to ALL come together, we are supposed to ALL be loved and cherish, we are supposed to ALL be cared for. And I see that nothing was carried out fairly. Just know that there are people out there who truly still care about her, and always will. A bad decision should never be faced with no support carried out by family. From me to your family, I just want to say God Bless you, and I pray that someday this city and PD will get what is deserved! <3RIP BROOKE!

Charles Batchelor said...

Apparently not

Charles Batchelor said...

And you are hiding behind an anamity to avoid the legal ramacations of committing libal/ slander.

Anonymous said...

What kind of coward uses an online blog to insult the family of a young lady who isn't even alive? Who the heck do you think you are as a person to question people who have experienced a kind of grief that cannot be dictated? If you've never lost a child, I suggest you sit down and take your uninformed opinions elsewhere. You should be 100% ashamed of yourself. Good God.

Ashley Lewis said...

if this was about getting justice then why sue for money? seams like the family used the daughters death for a pay check.
why was the gun so easy to get to and why didnt the family seek help after she ran off a week before?

Brian Byrd said...

Ignorance is bliss, right.

Anonymous said...

This was not about why Brooke chose to take her life, it is about the way the EMTs and JPD mishandled the situation. I'm sure the Russell family would rather have Brook than all the money in the world. That might have been possible if the EMTs and JPD had done their job and attended to the victim instead of letting her roll off the gurney on to the pavement below while they were flexing their muscles and bullying a distraught family.

For all any of us know they may have settled the lawsuit for $1. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how much money they sued for or for how much they settled. A lawsuit was the family's only recourse to clear their name and shed light on the "professionals'" unprofessional behavior.

Anonymous said...

Yes. A suicide foundation. Or grievance

Anonymous said...

Agree!

Anonymous said...

Exactly. Attention. If they say what EMTS have to do every day and the people they have to see screaming at them, telling them their doing the job wrong it would be different

Jessica said...

I'm so glad the City finally admitted their liability in this case. My admiration goes out to the Russell family.

Brian Byrd said...

Then you don't know the details.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who blindly believes the JPD/METS is a fool! The only thing the EMT's and JPD should have been focusng on was Brooke no more no less! For the EMT's to try and play detective was ridiculous, and they should have been doing their own job, not trying to do someone else's! Why were they dispatched to the police dept? Since they were already in route to hospital, should they not just have given them a police escort? And for the officers who pepper sprayed Brant and Kevin, why did you have to assault them, could you not have just tried to talk to them when they were having the worst day of their lives? I hope the cops who pepper sprayed and made the decision to hold them in jail for three hours have problems sleeping and think about their mistakes every day! For the EMT's involved, you need to find another line of work, because you lack compassion and did not administer care to the patient when she needed it most, and that is unacceptable in your line of work! To those who say this is about money or attention, you don't have a clue, the only course of action the Russell's had to clear their name and get some sort of justice for the mistakes made by JPD/METS was to sue.....they said from the begining all that was needed to make it all go away was an apology from those involved, and all involved had too big of ego's or were afraid to admit they were wrong because that would make them question their career choice and realize they have been in wrong profession all along! and those hiding behind anonymous comments and afraid to publish their names are either the guilty parties or their friends and family trying to make the Russell's look bad to make themselves feel better, because thats what bullies do! Justin Pittman

Justin pittman said...

those hiding behind anonymous comments are either the guilty parties or their families trying to make the Russell's look bad to make themselves feel better and to try and bury the guilt they hold inside! Show yourselves if you are not afraid!

Anonymous said...

I don't think he was writing this to insult anyone. I think he wrote this for people to know how this has been going. Because some of do care how jpd handles things around here. And if I'm correct he is on the russels side. I don't know this family at all. But I have been following this story. I wanted to know how it ended and if they got justice. If this was to happen to me I would do the same as them. Not for the money. But to show people how things really happened. And how awful they are. Who knows maybe if they would of done there job right they could of gotten her there sooner and saved her life. I don't know how bad things were but just a thought. And to the Russell's. Ignore these people. They have no clue what it's like to lose a child. They have no clue what you went through. Prayers for your family.
And Mr.Turner thanks for the update!

Fat Dude said...

It is cheaper to settle than to take any case to trial. If the city though they had even the slightest risk of losing it makes financial sense to settle. The lawyers their insurers paid for probably decided to take the cheapest route. If it was a slam dunk the petitioners lawyers would not have settled.

That being said if you get into the face of EMS and the cops are there, what do expect to happen? Hugs and kisses? Do you really believe law enforcement showed up and randomly placed hands onto these men? If so, for what purpose? Boredom? Doubtful.

A young girl killed herself and if, sadly, she shot herself in the head it is highly unlikely she would have survived even if it took place at the ER. The petition narrative provided only tells one side of the story and it is the designed to paint the most negative picture available on the respondents.

I don't have a dog in this fight. I can imagine the Russell fellows being aggressive, I would probably be the same and I hope never have to find out. I can also imagine the cops showing up and EMS asking for help getting the men away from them. Cops will believe EMS immediately based upon my understanding of the EMS/Cop relationship.

If you pay attention to the media and the reports JPD puts out, they fire their own often for violation of policies and use of force abuse. I am sure this case was looked at pretty hard. It would have been easier to terminate an officer than to publicly defend him. As far as the criminal charges being dropped. Does anyone think after their experience it would have served the public to charge them? It was all city charges anyway..not state charges.

At the end of the day the only person who will benefit from this is the lawyers who made bank on the case. That is all. A young girl found herself in a bad situation, at least emotionally, and took her own life. Nothing will change that. Maybe the family can donate what little money they will receive to programs to reduce teen suicide in our area.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is it is so terrible for all you people to judge the Russell family like this none of this was their fault they were treated like they did something wrong when all they wanted was for Brooke to be ok. I cannot begin to imagine what they have gone through and are still going through. Shame on you.

big black said...

Or maybe I know more of the the details than you....maybe thats why I can speak about the details, and know what I am speaking about...

big black said...

And just another thought, don't fight with the police and you won't get sprayed in the face with mace, and you won't end up in the city jail...

Anonymous said...

No people are crazy!!!!!!! Therefore it would be insane to remain anything but anonymous! This isn't slander BTW! Learn The Constitution!

Anonymous said...

So disagree! That's why this is America!

Anonymous said...

Well said!!!!

Anonymous said...

AMEN Justin Pittman!!! <3

Anonymous said...

I can see the side of law enforcement and medics. If you have belligerent people interfering with the process, it just hurts the person they are trying to help. Why didn't they call for help at the playground? Police have to gather facts. They don't know if it was intentionally or if she was a victim a crime. I also wonder why a emotionally troubled person had access to a firearm. Evidently, her family didn't deal with this young persons mental illness. They rather just scream and interfere with emergency personnel.

Anonymous said...

They were not interfering with medics or law enforcement. Why would they when they are trying to get their child medical treatment. The girl didn't have a mental illness nor did the family have a clue she was suicidal. The magazine of the gun was hidden only known by the father and the gun was not loaded. Why does it matter if they stayed at the park? They were taking her to the hospital and en route while on the phone to 911 they were told to go to PD. If they hadn't none of this would have happened.