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City officer sued in shooting case termed justified

– A Chicago woman has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Fort Wayne and a police officer in connection with the December 2010 shooting of Yahree Cavin.

Cavin, 23, was fatally shot by police inside a duplex at 2020 S. Harrison St. on Dec. 20, 2010.

In March 2011, Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards found that the officer involved in the shooting was justified in using deadly force against Cavin.

Police were called to the duplex where Cavin lived after he approached two men working on the building with what appeared to be a handgun. It was a replica gun, made to look like a semiautomatic handgun, according to police.

When five officers, including a supervisor, arrived to talk to Cavin, he answered the door holding the fake gun and refused to put it down. When he raised the gun at officers, one shot him with a Taser, and Sgt. Mark Dolezal shot him with his gun.

Cavin was taken to a hospital in critical condition, where he later died.

The lawsuit, filed this week in Allen Superior Court by Alana Jones, the mother of Cavin’s son, paints a different picture of the shooting. Jones alleges Cavin returned from a trip to the mailbox, walked into his apartment and locked the door.

Shortly after he came inside the apartment, Dolezal came to the door of the apartment and, after Cavin partly opened the door, came inside with the other officers, according to court documents.

According to the lawsuit, Dolezal and the other officers ordered Cavin to face the wall. Another officer asked him whether he had a gun, and Cavin said he had a toy gun in his pocket, court records said.

Jones alleges that as Cavin was handing the gun to the officers and she and Cain were explaining it was not a real gun, the other officer shot him with a Taser, according to court documents.

During the five seconds of the Taser deployment, Dolezal shot Cavin in the back, according to court documents.

The Fort Wayne Police Department declined to comment on pending litigation through its spokeswoman.

In 2008, Cavin sued the city of Chicago and a number of Chicago police officers alleging violations of his constitutional rights.

According to court documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Cavin was at a McDonald’s restaurant in November 2005 when it was robbed. He had been fired from the store days before the robbery and appeared at the side door just before two men forced their way inside.

While the employees were ordered into the back office, Cavin remained in the front, where he remained until police arrived.

Cavin alleged that when he tried to tell police what he had witnessed, they instead arrested him for armed robbery, in spite of the pleas of the employees that he was not the person who robbed them, according to court documents.

The robber was never caught, but a then-18-year-old Cavin was detained for two years for the crime until the state’s attorney dismissed the charges against him. While in jail, Cavin contracted tuberculosis and missed the last half of his senior year in high school, according to court documents.

The city of Chicago and the officers denied Cavin’s claims, saying the officers arrested him based on information available to them at the time and were acting in their duties as police officers.

After Cavin’s death, Jones was substituted as a plaintiff in that case, according to federal court records.

In May 2011, a federal judge ruled in favor of the city of Chicago and the officers. The judge found no evidence of a conspiracy to keep Cavin unjustly confined, nor did he find his constitutional right to due process was violated, according to court documents.

In August 2011, Cavin’s estate, through Jones, was ordered to pay $3,504.88 in costs to the defendants in that case, according to court documents.

rgreen@jg.net

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