Plaintiff: Joseph M. Gatling Jr.
Defendants: Officer Antonio Long, Officer Kevin Raynor, the District of Columbia
Damages Sought: $2.75 million
Complaint: Gatling, a D.C. police detective, was in plainclothes and driving an unmarked Crown Vic on Halloween 2002. He had just seen a murder suspect emerge from a house on Division Avenue NE. The suspect got into a black Infiniti driven by a woman. Gatling called for backup, and Raynor and Long cut off the Infiniti at 49th and Blaine Streets NE. Gatling got out of his car with a gun in his hand and a badge around his neck. He poked the gun into the passenger side and made sure the suspect wasn’t armed. Raynor and Long secured the driver’s side; they ordered the man out. Then they saw Gatling’s gun—but not his badge. Someone shouted, “Gun!” Raynor and Long fired into the car. Gatling got a bullet in his leg; the driver was killed.
Quality of Representation: Excellent. Attorney Donald Temple nails the story with scarcely a wasted word. He never loses sight of the objects (black Infiniti, gun, badge) on which the narrative turns. And he explains how much Gatling hurts: “Plaintiff still has a bullet lodged in his leg and continues to experience pain and suffering.”
Summary Judgment: We’ve heard our share of bad-cop stories in this courtroom, but it’s not often that police fire on a comrade and kill an innocent person in the same day. Indignation aside, we can’t help but sympathize with Raynor and Long. It’s easy to understand that the sight of a gun in a nonuniformed hand would be cause for concern. The reason they don’t get off, though, is that they knew (or should have known) that Gatling was plainclothes and on the scene. He said as much on the radio. Defendants, the clerk will collect your badges.
EXTRA TEXT DOWNLOAD: Joseph M. Gatling Jr.'s court complaint (PDF)