Monday, April 06, 2015
Russell family, City of Joplin settle lawsuit
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/