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Boston Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Over Fatal 2007 Police Shooting of Man with Mental Issues

The widow of Marquis Barker has filed a $4 million Boston wrongful death lawsuit against the city over his fatal shooting by police officers. In her civil complaint, Kim Sanders Barker contends that cops should have called in a mental-health professional rather than using a gun to apprehend her husband. She is alleging Massachusetts excessive use of police force and civil rights violations.

Barker died on November 21, 2007 in a Walgreens parking lot. Police who approached him in the police cruiser he had stolen thought that he was carrying a semi-automatic gun when, in fact he was holding a non-lethal pellet gun.

Kim Barker says that after her husband left their house with the gun, she contacted 911 and told the dispatcher that not only was he carrying the gun, but also that he had suffered a breakdown and was diabetic. She contends that although there were cops who knew that her husband was mentally impaired, they failed to notify the officers who arrived at the scene. She also notes that even without any notice, her husband’s diminished physical and mental capacity should have been obvious. She says that police at the scene should have asked for a crisis negotiator or sought medical or psychiatric help for her husband rather than shooting him.

Noting that the pellet gun was designed to look like an SIG combat pistol and that this caused the cops to fear for their lives when Barker appeared poised to fire it, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office has cleared the officers of wrongdoing related to the incident. However, Kim Barker, in her Boston wrongful death complaint says that the officers fired at her husband without provocation or warning.

Wife of slain man sues city, Boston.com, November 20, 2010
Widow of man shot to death by police files wrongful-death lawsuit, Dorchester Report, November 21, 2010

Related Web Resource:
Boston Police Department