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Saturday, Jun. 29, 2013

Jurors side with KC police officer in lawsuit over fatal shooting

The Kansas City Star

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Jackson County jurors rejected a wrongful-death claim against a Kansas City police officer Friday that had been filed by the mother of a man shot and killed after a high-speed chase.

Jurors ruled in favor of Officer Robert Vivona after about two hours of deliberations.

Angela Davis contended in a three-day trial that Vivona essentially executed Terry Davis in May 2008 after her son had dropped a handgun and put up his hands to surrender.

Vivona, a decorated officer, testified that he fired only after Davis, 26, turned around during a foot chase and threatened him with the weapon.

Vivona declined to comment after the verdict.

Attorney Andrew Protzman, who represented Angela Davis, urged jurors in closing arguments to rely on the testimony of two women who witnessed the shooting from 70 yards away. Both testified that Terry Davis had his hands in the air and was either on his knees or sinking to his knees when he was shot.

“Once they stop and put their hands up, it’s all over,” Protzman said. “A police officer who takes advantage of this situation … has committed one of the worst abuses of power I can imagine.”

Vivona’s lawyer, Diane Chirnside, questioned the women’s view of the shooting, noting that Terry Davis was shot in the chest and not in the back as they testified. She also noted that one of the women had given two statements to police and one to the media without mentioning that Terry Davis appeared to be surrendering.

Chirnside also asked jurors to consider Terry Davis’ conduct before the shooting.

“Why do you take a loaded gun when you’re running from police?” she asked. “There’s one reason. You intend to use it.”

Davis was killed after he bailed out of a truck during a high-speed chase on May 8, 2008.

To reach Mark Morris, call 816-234-4310 or send email to

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