Sunday, July 16, 2017


Family of suicidal Wisconsin woman, 26, killed as she was shot 11 times by police while holding a gun to her own head is awarded $7 million in damages by jury

By Associated Press and Daily Mail
July 14, 2017

A federal jury has awarded $7million in damages to the family of a woman killed by two police officers in Madison, Wisconsin, on Thursday, saying the officers used unreasonable force.

The civil lawsuit was brought by relatives of 26-year-old Ashley DiPiazza, who was shot to death in 2014 while holed up at her apartment with a gun.

Dane County prosecutors previously cleared the officers, Justin Bailey and Gary Pihlaja, of any criminal liability during the incident in which they shot DiPiazza 11 times.

During the trial, DiPiazza's family said that the officers shot her even though she threatened no one but herself. Their lawsuit claimed that the police had violated DiPiazza's constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizures when they killed her, reports the Wisconsin State Journal.

In 2014, police were called to DiPiazza's apartment when her boyfriend claimed that they had had a heated, 'relationship-ending' argument and that DiPiazza was drinking and in possession of his gun.

When the officers arrived, DiPiazza came out of her bedroom with the gun pointed at her own head. After attempting to talk DiPiazza down for 30 minutes with the help of a negotiator, Bailey and Pihlaja — each of whom had limited cover — fatally shot her.

The officers testified that they shot DiPiazza when she emerged from a bedroom with a gun to her head and ignored their commands to drop the weapon.

Ultimately, the jury decided that the officers had used unreasonable force when trying to subdue DiPiazza and declared that her family should receive $4million in compensatory damages, with an additional $3million in punitive damages.

Unlike during criminal trials, the DiPiazza family only had to convince the jury that their claims were probably true, instead of having to offer proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, that they were true.

'The jury ruled loud and clear for justice for Ashley DiPiazza,' said DiPiazza's father, Joe, following the verdict.

In contrast, Jim Palmer, executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, told the State Journal that the verdict actually send 'a message that officers have to wait to be fired upon or have a gun directed at them before taking action to protect themselves,' which flies in the face of their training.

Palmer added that the verdict 'sends a disconcerting message to officers because this will lead to second-guessing that puts officers at risk.'

In addition to being cleared of criminal liability by the state, both Bailey and Gary Pihlaja were cleared by an internal Madison police review that stated that neither officer violated departmental policy during the shooting incident.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Or you could say the cops successfully kept her from committing suicide.

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