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Wrongful-death suit filed against sheriff

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

The family of a Jonesboro man who was shot and killed by a Clayton County sheriff's deputy in 2007 has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in Clayton County State Court.

Janice Williams and David Nave, Sr., representing the estate of their late son, David Nave, Jr., 19, filed the civil suit Nov. 24 through their attorney, Terry Jackson.

The shooting incident occurred Nov. 27, 2007.

The suit claims that former Clayton County Sheriff's Deputy Kirby Threat, and current Deputy Roland Boehrer, used excessive force, leading to the younger Nave's death in 2007.

Jackson, in the complaint, states that Threat shot David Nave, Jr., three times in the back as he was running away during a foot chase.

The complaint also claims that prior to the shooting, Boehrer used a Taser on David Nave, Jr., striking the teen in the back.

According to court documents, David Nave, Jr., was mentally ill and had been diagnosed as schizophrenic.

The lawsuit states that the teen was running from the deputies because, earlier, he had caused a "commotion" inside a BP gas station near his Tara Boulevard home and smashed a store window.

Jackson states in the lawsuit that David Nave, Jr., left the store, then slashed the tires of the store owner's vehicle, and smashed the vehicle's windshield.

At the time of the incident, former Sheriff Victor Hill was in office. However, the suit names current Sheriff Kem Kimbrough as a defendant, along with Threat and Boehrer, because "he is the elected successor to Sheriff Hill in Clayton County, and his office is vicariously liable for the acts of Hill, to the extent any liability is found against Hill," the document states.

"Victor Hill, the former Sheriff of Clayton County, filed bankruptcy on December 30, 2008, but failed to give plaintiffs notice of that filing or to list them as claimants on his bankruptcy petition," the lawsuit states. "Counsel for plaintiffs is requesting that the bankruptcy court lift the automatic stay in this case so that plaintiffs may proceed against Hill, individually and in his official capacity on behalf of the Clayton County Sheriff's Department, and plaintiff will move to add him as a party to this case when the bankruptcy court gives its permission to proceed."

The complaint requests a jury trial in the case, and asks that the family be compensated for "their compensatory damage claims."

Kimbrough said Tuesday that he could not comment on the pending litigation.

Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson said her office conducted an investigation into the shooting, and closed the case on Aug. 17.

"Based upon the investigation that was conducted by my office -- after reviewing all the evidence, including the GBI reports, medical examiner's report, and witness statements -- the deputies acted in self-defense, and it was a justified shooting," Lawson said. "What the evidence showed was that the young man was acting violently toward several other people with a knife. When they [deputies] caught up to him, and tried to apprehend him, he approached them with a knife, and the first deputy unsuccessfully tried to Tase him."

Lawson said David Nave, Jr., was not successfully Tasered because one of the prongs from the device did not strike him, and he did not receive an electric jolt.

"When the young man was advancing toward that deputy with a butcher knife, the second deputy shot him in

self-defense of the first deputy," she said. "Based upon the evidence, the first bullet entered his chest, the second bullet hit his left side towards the back, and as he was turning the third bullet hit the back of his right elbow."

Clayton County Chief Staff Attorney Michael Smith said his office will file a response to the lawsuit in Clayton County State Court.

"It will be handled by outside counsel, along with my department, and it is being reviewed at this time," Smith said.

Smith said after his office files a response, the case will go through a discovery process.

"Each side has an opportunity to engage in discovery, and motions would be filed by either side," he said.

Smith said a judge would then decide whether to allow the case to be heard by a jury.