By ANDRIA SIMMONS
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Monday, March 09, 2009
The city of Duluth wants a judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a Fulton County police officer who was shot last year while intervening in a struggle between a Duluth Police officer and a citizen.
In a response to the lawsuit filed last week, the city says it is shielded from liability for the injury to Fulton County Officer Paul Phillips because of sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity is a legal exemption which prevents a government from being sued without its consent.
Former Duluth police officer Jay Dailey has been charged with multiple felonies related to the Feb. 1, 2008, shooting.
Gwinnett County news
Former Duluth police officer Jay Dailey, 43, has been charged with multiple felonies in connection with his bizarre behavior on Feb. 1, 2008. He is accused of flagging down and attacking a female motorist in Sugar Hill. Dailey engaged in a shootout with Phillips when he tried to intervene.
Phillips, a married father of two young children, was shot once in the arm. His attorney, David Will, said Phillips still suffers from loss of movement and sensation in his hand and lower arm.
“I think he is coming to the sad realization that he’s not going to be able to return to law enforcement in any capacity,” Will said.
Phillips’ lawsuit, filed Jan. 29, names the city of Duluth, Duluth Police Chief Randy Belcher, Maj. Don Woodruff and Dailey.
It says that when police questioned Dailey after the attack, he said he had consumed vodka along with the prescription drugs Prozac and Lexapro, which treat anxiety and depression. Dailey told investigators he was “out of my mind and have many issues” and said he “never should have been hired as a police officer,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims Duluth officials were negligent in retaining Dailey as a police officer. It says city officials knew Dailey had a history of depression and alcoholism because he sought treatment for alcohol abuse during his employment.
Phillips’ lawsuit also mentions another bizarre outburst by Dailey that occurred on Sept. 9, 2003. While drunk and armed with several weapons, he allegedly walked down a residential street and threatened several of his neighbors. The lawsuit says Dailey was combative with Gwinnett police officers at the scene. As a result, he was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric treatment facility for a mental health evaluation, the lawsuit says.
When the shooting happened last year, Belcher and Woodruff both expressed shock at Dailey’s behavior. They said his record was spotless, and Belcher described him as a “quiet, laid-back officer.”
Duluth police did not respond to inquiries about the lawsuit Monday morning.