Lawsuit claims Dothan negligent in hiring police officer who shot man to death

Published 06/12 2014 01:27PM

Updated 06/17 2014 11:42AM

The City of Dothan has been accused of negligently hiring a police officer who shot and killed a man following a brief pursuit. An amended complaint was filed Thursday in federal court by the family of Christopher Jerome Thomas. It names Officer Darren Moody and the City as defendants.

The complaint alleges the city employed Moody despite personnel violations when he was previously employed by the Pensacola Police Department. Moody left that job in or about 2003 and later joined the Dothan force.

Atlanta attorney Mario Williams, who represents Thomas’ family, claims due diligence was not adequately performed by the city of Dothan prior to hiring Moody.

Thomas, 22, died when he was shot to death in a downtown parking lot. The SUV he was driving then traveled across Montgomery Highway striking a printing business where one person was injured.

In the lawsuit it’s alleged that Moody initially believed he was chasing someone other than Thomas. Radio transmissions in a video/audio of the chase obtained exclusively by WDHN/DothanFirst confirm that Moody thought he was chasing Jerry Jerome Hill, a convicted felon also known as “Booty Bop”. Moody indicated he believed Hill had charges outstanding against him.

Katherine Thomas claims her son was killed when Moody jumped from his car and began firing shots before giving Christopher Thomas an adequate chance to surrender.

Some witnesses claim Moody ran toward Thomas’ car and fired at nearly point blank range with the officer never in the path of Thomas’ vehicle. Other witnesses dispute those claims.

A Houston County Grand Jury heard evidence related to the shooting and found Moody was justified in his actions.

The federal lawsuit in which unspecified damages are sought will likely not be heard until at least mid 2015.

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