Topeka's city government to pay no money to relatives of Dominique White after suit was dismissed

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Topeka's city government will pay no settlement money to relatives who sued seeking more than $10 million after Topeka police officers fatally shot Dominique White, shown here, in 2017.
Topeka's city government will pay no settlement money to relatives who sued seeking more than $10 million after Topeka police officers fatally shot Dominique White, shown here, in 2017.

Topeka's city government will pay no settlement money to family members who sued seeking more than $10 million after Topeka police officers fatally shot Dominique White in 2017, interim city media relations director Gretchen Spiker said Monday.

Earlier that day, a federal judge had issued an order dismissing the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning it can't be refiled.

The city and White's family members pursuing the suit had filed a joint motion Wednesday in U.S. District Court seeking to have it dismissed in that manner.

Those plaintiffs are White's parents, Kelly White and Mary Theresa Wynne, who are co-administrators of his estate and have been acting on behalf of themselves and White's four minor children.

White's family has been represented by Andrew M. Stroth, managing director of Chicago-based Action Injury Law Group, a national civil rights law firm.

Stroth hadn't responded to email and telephone messages left for him by The Capital-Journal.

Spiker said Monday that an attorney representing White's family members had contacted the city and expressed a willingness to dismiss their claims.

Attorneys representing the city responded that they wouldn't agree unless the dismissal came by court order and with prejudice, she said.

"Plaintiffs agreed so the city and plaintiffs filed a joint motion," Spiker said. "That was the extent of any type of settlement. It is simply an agreement to file a joint motion to dismiss the claims with prejudice. The city agreed with the plaintiffs' motion provided it was with prejudice because that resolves the claims in the city’s favor and the claims cannot be refiled."'

Lawsuit sought more than $10 million

Court records show members of White's family sought $10 million for alleged civil rights violations linked to White's death and an additional $4,790 to cover funeral expenses.

Topeka police officers Justin Mackey and Michael Cruse were on duty when they fatally shot White, 30, in the back after a struggle the morning of Sept. 28, 2017, near Ripley Park at S.E. 3rd and Lawrence.

White denied he had a gun, then resisted the officers as they tried to seize a handgun from his shorts pocket, said Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay.

White was shot after running away from officers with his left hand hovering over the pocket containing the gun, Kagay said.

The officers were cleared of criminal wrongdoing in the case, and an internal police investigation concluded they had committed no policy violations.

Members of White’s family’s filed a two-count lawsuit in June 2018 against Mackey, Cruse, Topeka's city government and five unnamed Topeka police officers. The unnamed officers were subsequently dropped as defendants.

Judge: Officers had qualified immunity

The suit’s first count contended Mackey and Cruse shot White without just cause. The second contended the city and its police department trained officers inadequately.

A federal judge issued an order in September 2020 removing Mackey and Cruse as defendants because they have qualified immunity.

Qualified immunity shields government officials performing discretionary functions from liability for civil damages if their conduct doesn’t violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.

This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: City of Topeka to pay no money to family of man fatally shot by police

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