The City of Edmond did not violate the constitutional rights of the late Isaiah Mark Lewis in the police shooting that left the 17-year-old boy fatally wounded on April 29, contends attorney Taylor Clark in representing the city in Federal Court. (Editor's Note: This story has been updated.)
Clark’s filing came in response to a civil rights lawsuit filed in May against the City of Edmond, Police Sgt. Milo Box, and Officer Denton Scherman individually in the police-related shooting of Lewis. The lawsuit states it seeks justice for civil rights violations that the Lewis family said resulted in Isaiah’s death.
Clark filed the city’s answer to the lawsuit in federal court Wednesday.
Lewis states, “Edmond denies that it violated any constitutional rights and denies it is liable to plaintiffs (in any capacity) for the death of Isaiah Mark Lewis.”
Clark stated that Lewis, an African American, removed his clothes and ran naked in a foot pursuit with Edmond police officers until entering a home at 520 Gray Fox Run. The defense agreed that an Edmond police officer tasered Lewis, and Lewis was shot by another officer. No further information about what transpired between the officers and Lewis within the home has been made public. Statements have been taken; however, they are not considered public information by Edmond Police Department. These statements have reportedly been placed in the officers’ personnel records.
At least one of the officers fired his hand gun four times striking Isaiah, according to police. Information in the city’s latest filing specifically states that Sgt. Milo Box is the officer who tasered Isaiah Lewis. It further asserts that the officers are entitled to “qualified immunity” — a defense which “protects public officials from being sued for damages” and “aims to protect civil servants from the fear of litigation in performing discretionary functions entrusted to them by law,” as defined by USLegal.com.
Clark further states, “Edmond admits that Lewis was justifiably shot by a service weapon after being ineffectively tasered. Edmond also admits that Isaiah Mark Lewis was naked and unarmed when he was shot and that verbal commands were given to Isaiah Mark Lewis prior to the shooting.
In the filing the City repeatedly denies that any constitutional rights were violated during the incident.
“That being said, Edmond is without sufficient knowledge of information to admit or deny the remaining allegations … and therefore the same are denied,” states the City of Edmond filing.
Box and Scherman acted in accordance with the policy, practices, and/or customs of the Edmond Police Department when Lewis was shot, Clark stated.
The city’s federal filing denies all requests for relief, and demands a jury trial in the matter.
Clark chose not to discuss the federal lawsuit with The Edmond Sun during pending litigation.
Lewis family attorney Andrew Stroth said that Isaiah had not committed a serious and/or violent crime, and was not a dangerous fleeing felon.
“At every level the Edmond Police Department failed, and the leadership of Edmond,” Stroth said. “The officers knew that Isaiah was in crisis. The officers knew he was unarmed, and in addition to being unarmed he was naked. He could not have been reaching or grabbing for a weapon.”
Stroth said the Edmond Police Department failed to send its crisis intervention team to help with Isaiah’s mental crisis.