Rifle officer who shot suicidal man in the back as he ran away violated the constitution, lawsuit alleges

Allan George was killed by police on Aug. 5

 

The family of a suicidal man shot twice in the back while running away from Rifle police in 2019 is suing the city and the officer involved, alleging the use of deadly force was unconstitutional.

 

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Colorado, alleges that Cpl. Dewey Ryan used excessive force and violated a Supreme Court precedent when he shot Allan George, 58, in August as the man ran away from police after they attempted to arrest him on a warrant.

 

“The decision to employ deadly force by shooting Mr. George in the back multiple times and killing him, when other less-than-lethal force was readily available, was excessive under the circumstances,” the complaint said.

 

Rifle city manager Scott Hahn said the city did not wish to comment on the lawsuit.

 

On Aug. 5, Rifle police stopped George on a bridge, attempting to arrest him on child pornography possession charges. When George got out of his car, he stood on the edge of a bridge over the Colorado River, a pistol pointed at his chest.

 

Video recorded by a passerby shows George pointing the gun at himself while considering jumping from the bridge during a tense four-minute exchange. Eventually, he put the gun in his pocket and ran.

 

“Mr. George made no move to remove the gun from his pocket at this point,” the lawsuit said. “His hands were clearly empty.”

 

 

Two officers pursued George before Ryan the shot George twice in the back, killing him.

 

In November, the Ninth Judicial District Attorney declined to file charges against Ryan.

 

David Lane, the George family attorney, cited a 1985 Supreme Court case which ruled that the “use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all felony suspects, whatever the circumstances, is constitutionally unreasonable. It is not better that all felony suspects die than that they escape.”

 

But Colorado law enforcement has been given leeway in such cases by way of a fleeing felon statute, which allows officers to shoot a fleeing suspect, particularly one suspected of violence.

 

The Rifle shooting came two days after Colorado Springs police shot 19-year-old De’Von Bailey in the back as he ran away after being stopped on a suspected armed robbery.

 

A grand jury declined to indict the officers in the Bailey shooting.

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