Woman files lawsuit against Willard Police

Victim seeking more than $25,000 in damages after being shot in the foot.
Jessica Cuffman
Dec 21, 2013

 

A Toledo woman who suffered a shot to the foot when Willard police attempted to serve a search warrant almost a year ago is now suing the department for damages.

Erica Devlin, 20, was leaving a home in the 600 block of Pleasant St. on Dec. 19, 2012, when she saw Willard police officers approaching the home. One of the officers, Brian Slone, ordered her to the ground and she complied, getting to her knees. But as officers got closer to the home, another man standing outside, Kyle Zarcone, spotted police and ran inside.

Then chaos erupted.

When two pit bulls came running out of the front door, Slone, along with Willard Officer Jeremy Draper, and Greenwich police Officer Sean Nolen, started firing shots at the dogs.

Draper tripped as he backed up, falling on top of Devlin, and the dogs made their escape.

When the dust cleared, officers had fired several shots. Investigators later determined Nolen had triggered four of them. One of them, from a 9mm gun, struck Devlin in the foot.    “Upon information and belief, it was a gunshot from Defendant Officer Nolen that struck Plaintiff,” Devlin’s Toledo attorney, James Silk, wrote in the lawsuit.

Nearly a year to the day, Devlin’s attorney filed a lawsuit on her behalf in the U.S. Northern District Court in Toledo, claiming personal injury and seeking more than $25,000 in damages.

An Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation report released four months after the incident said the bullet fragments found in Devlin’s foot could have come from Nolen’s gun, but scientists couldn’t tell for sure.

None of the three officers were disciplined for the incident, though the two Willard officers were placed on administrative duties while the BCI investigation was pending.

In following through on the warrant, police seized drugs, drug paraphernalia and $556 from inside a safe.

Officers filed charges against Zarcone, 20, and another man inside the home, Anthony Hicks, 20, but both cases stalled out in court when prosecutors didn’t follow through on the charges.

Technically, Hicks’ case remains on the docket in Huron County Common Pleas Court, but records show it will be dismissed if no action is taken by the state before Dec. 27.

Devlin’s lawsuit alleges negligence on the part of all three officers, and failure of the Willard and Greenwich police departments to properly follow at least four department policies.

“Officers Draper, Slone, and Nolen, had a duty to act prudently and with reasonable care and otherwise avoid the use of unnecessary, unreasonable, and excessive and/ or deadly force,” according to the lawsuit.

The policy infractions included in the lawsuit:

• Failure to properly screen, supervise and otherwise control police officers who were known or should have been known to engage in use of excessive force and deadly force.

• Failure to have and implement procedures and training in the use of deadly force and failing to incorporate training for officers in use of firearms.

• Failure to properly screen, supervise and otherwise provide training to police officers who are asked to assist in other agencies’ operations.

• Failure to comply with provisions of a mutual aid agreement.

Devlin was an innocent bystander, according to court documents, and the officers “acted so recklessly as to demonstrate substantial lack of concern as to whether injury or death would result”

Willard police Chief Mark Holden did not return calls seeking comment Friday.

In a past interview with the Register, Greenwich police Chief Steve Dorsey said Nolen followed all procedures.

Comments

oheaglefl

Ok, you got two pit bulls rushing at you, your just gonna stand there and let them attack you, don't think so. Who knows Zarcone probably sic'ed the dogs on the officers, so he could get away.

Erie Sniper

Why does that make it acceptable to shoot someone that they have in "custody"?

Dont Worry Be Happy

Very true oheaglefl. I'm a animal lover but if I'm being charged at I'm going to do whatever I can to not be attacked.

Seacher

That is why you are NOT a police officer. If you remember correctly, they are to serve and protect. The protect part is for us (the public), Not themselves while putting people at risk. They are supposed to be calm, cool, and collected in the face of adversity. They are supposed to be trained in dealing with high stress situations. The threat of a dog bite is absolutely no reason to jeopardize a person's life!

Dr. Information

She won't win. Drug addict in a drug infested house during a drug raid.

outin5

Her being a drug addict in the house has absolutely nothing to do with her being shot. they didn't exhibit reasonable care when shooting and therefore she got shot by mistake...should they have shot at the dogs? ABSOLUTELY! but they are trained to shoot a little more accurately and definitely only if they have a clear shot....and by the statement.."when the dust settled" im led to believe they just fired in the general direction of the dogs

Seacher

.should they have shot at the dogs? ABSOLUTELY! What!?!? How could you say that? It doesn't even say the dogs charged them, growled at them, or in any way threatened them. It says the dogs ran out of the house. They always seem to be too quick to shoot at dogs. The article then says, "the dogs then escaped"......Escaped what? Not being shot?

huronguy

Maybe these officers should have put together a better game plan. They were obviously negligent and need retraining.
If that was you or I we would have been charged with felonious assault. Use some doggie mace next time and keep the guns holstered cowboys.

Dr. Information

Went 2 large dogs are charging at you during a raid (especially not knowing there were dogs in the house), you would shoot also. Dogs lose, cops win. Don't defend druggies, makes you look like an idiot.

BabyMomma

She will win. Not saying the cops were wrong for firing at the dogs, but they should be a little more efficient with their shots.

Unassumer

I don't think she has a leg, I mean foot to stand on. Pun intended. When 2 dogs are charging at you, you don't think about mace unless that's all you've got. I agree that she probably won't win. Can't even prove the fragments in her foot came from the officer's gun so good luck with that. She would only waste it all on drugs anyway.

The Rudy

This woman deserves nothing. She knew what was going on there. Don't go to a drug house if you don't want to get caught up in the dangers of a drug house.

Kilroy

She will win the police were negligent.

I was taught at a young age to always know what is behind what you are shooting at. The police did not do that.

Does not matter why she was there. She could have been a censor taker or similar and would not have know it was a drug house.

Kingsin

#

huronguy

Dr. Information your spelling makes you look like an idiot.
The police were obviously negligent, it's common sense. Yes she may be a drug addict idk I also don't know what she was doing their. The jury to her lawsuit are not even going to hear why she was their. It's going to be stricken. Whenever a cop shoots someone that was not found guilty of committing a crime their is negligence involved. This "raid" was poorly planned and executed. This is why surveillance is done and a plan is put together in order to know what your up against. What if he shot another officer in the head. Oh wait you all would be crying NEGLIGENCE and then they would really find out who fired that bullet and hold them accountable.

tk

huronguy, when you use their instead of there, it makes you look like an idiot.

mikesee

Yep.

Stop It

Gotta love it when someone calls out spelling errors and does the same themselves.

Yep+2

Dr. Information

huron guy. Sorry my phone autocorrected went instead of when. Common mistake but the fact that you get on here for something so minor, call me out and then proceed to butcher your rambling paragraph full of errors. One word, DERP!

The Rudy

Is shooting another officer in the head really comparable to shooting a doper at a dope house?

deertracker

I'm with huronguy on this. Seems like lack of planning is the real issue here. You have to be prepared for everything during a raid and these guys were not.

Stop It

Swat team wannabees...

Darwin's choice

She'll win. Another case of police stupidity.

Maybe willard will go back to only giving "Barney Fife" one bullet.

All three officers should lose their jobs. It won't matter why she was there, she wasn't guilty of anything. What if she had been killed? The willard police would be working for her family....

LuckOfTheIrish

Erica has never been, nor is she now, a drug addict.
This was just a wrong place wrong time type ordeal.

Mr. D

Were the officers attacked by the dogs? Article says the dogs just ran away. Very poor police procedure here. She should have sued for a lot more. She will win!!!

huronguy

Thanks deer tracker we usually don't agree but at least your using common sense and logic. This woman got shot because of poor planning and execution. Ppl on here are saying she's a drug addict because they read what another person wrote on here. And Rudy half these cops are just as bad as these "dopers". They just get away with their crimes that's all. If a dog attacked me or you and We accidentally shot a cop in the process best believe you and I would be in jail. Sounds like this girl has a few bitter ex boyfriends on here.

Dr. Information

Yet another botched paragraph full of errors. Better work on your English skills. Lol.

TCox

I personally know this young ladies family, and have read the BCI report.
From the comments I'm reading, there are so many things about this story being omitted, and ridiculous things being added.
The so called "vicious pit bulls' survived the shootings,and the dog warden himself said vicious dogs "DO NOT RUN AWAY"! Theses two dogs ran AWAY, not towards the officers or the young lady! Frightened dogs that hear gun shots, run away. And police officers fire towards running dogs, which happen to be running towards open field, past the young lady on the ground and police officer beside her. Pit bulls that don't pass temperament test, are euthanized, these two dogs are still alive, healthy and happy!
Police officer even shot into the raided house. Picture of the bullet hole in wall proves this fact. Why were shots being fired inside the home if the police had yet to enter to check the inside situation. Randomly shooting?
I think it's time for those interested,to hear the TRUTH! I know for a fact that this young lady was NOT found guilty of anything, and she clearly is NOT a drug user/seller as some have stated.
Unfortunately on 12-19-13, this young lady happened to agree to meet and pick her girlfriend up at the residence, so they could drive back to Perrysburg together, where they were both scheduled to work that evening.
I'm just happy to personally know the facts, so I do not have to speculate or make ridiculous accusations. I truly feel bad for this young lady, and her family for having to deal with judgmental, misinformed people. I also know that the newspapers reported her injuries as "minor", when in fact it is far worse than what has been reported. I've seen her foot, and it not a "minor" injury.
In order to work, her job requires standing, which is unbearable at times. Another surgery and more time off work is in her future.
I feel for those that cannot accept the fact, that this young lady was an "INNOCENT BYSTANDER" no other explanation needed. A FACT some truly wish to rule out!

arnmcrmn

Innocent bystander in a drug infested house. Hard to feel sorry for her. When one puts themselves in a bad situation, accept the consequences.

KURTje

Just another day in Willard.