EDWARD SHAW, as Personal Representative of the estate of Ananias Shaw, Plaintiff-Appellant,
CITY OF SELMA, an Alabama Municipal Corporation, CHIEF WILLIAM RILEY, in his official and individual capacity, OFFICER DESMOND WILLIAMS, Defendants-Appellees.
from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Alabama D.C. Docket No. 2:16-cv-00007-WS-M
ED CARNES, Chief Judge, BLACK, Circuit Judge, and MAY,
CARNES, CHIEF JUDGE
Police officer shot and killed Ananias Shaw, who was coming
toward him with a hatchet. Shaw's estate brought 42
U.S.C. § 1983 claims for excessive force and false
arrest and state law tort claims against Officer Desmond
Williams, former Selma Police Chief William Riley, and the
City of Selma. The district court granted summary judgment in
favor of the defendants and the estate has appealed.
middle of the afternoon in early December 2013, Selma Police
received an emergency call about a disturbance at a
Church's Chicken restaurant. Shaw, a 74-year-old mentally
ill man, had attempted to enter the restaurant but was turned
away by its general manager. Officers Daniel Boone, Ronald
Jones, and Desmond Williams responded to a dispatch about the
dispatch directed the officers to the Church's Chicken
with the call "disorderly conduct in progress." The
dispatcher relayed the suspect's description to the
officers and informed them that Shaw had been at the
restaurant the Sunday before "armed with a knife."
was already in the area near the Church's Chicken. After
he spotted Shaw, who matched the dispatched description of
the disorderly suspect, Jones radioed for the other officers
to join him. The three of them found Shaw inside an abandoned
laundromat down the street. Most of the events of the next
two minutes were recorded by Williams' body
who was familiar with Shaw, went inside the building "to
talk" with him and coax him out. Williams walked up to
the building at roughly the same time. As he approached,
Jones (who also knew Shaw) warned Williams that Shaw would
"fight you in a minute."
inside, Boone asked Shaw to go outside the laundromat and
speak with him, but Shaw refused. Shaw then bent down and
picked up a hatchet. Boone drew his gun in response and
started backing out of the building. Shaw, holding the
hatchet, followed him.
Boone exited the laundromat, the officers firmly and clearly
told Shaw several times to "put the axe
down." Once Shaw was outside, Williams drew his
gun, and Jones pulled out his baton. Shaw began slowly
walking away from the building in the direction of the
restaurant. The officers followed him down the street with
their weapons drawn. Between Shaw's curses at them, they
repeatedly instructed him to put down the hatchet. Shaw
ignored them and continued walking away, hatchet still in
four continued making their way down the street, walking past
some houses. Shaw slowed down and moved onto the front lawn
of one of those houses, stopping beside a parked car.
Williams, following closely, raised his pistol and ordered
Shaw to put down the hatchet twice more. Shaw stopped
walking, turned, and began moving slowly towards Williams. As
he approached, Shaw shouted for Williams to "Shoot it!
Shoot it!" As he did so, Shaw's right arm and the
hatchet were outside the frame of the video.
time he was less than five feet away from Williams, Shaw,
while holding the hatchet, yelled "Shoot it!" one
more time. Williams immediately fired a single shot at
Shaw's chest, and Shaw fell. The video shows that when
the shot was fired Shaw was close to Williams and moving
closer. A short time afterwards, the paramedics pronounced
Shaw dead at the scene.
two minutes or so between Williams' arrival at the
laundromat and the shooting, the officers told Shaw to