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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Judge Rules in Favor of Beford Police Officers Chase Hamiliton and Clay Blackburn

BEDFORD - JUNE 22, 2023 - Lawrence County Circuit Court Judge Natan Nikirk has ruled in favor of Bedford Police Officers Chase Hamiliton and Clay Blackburn's motion to partially dismiss the lawsuit files against them.



The attorneys Janielle P. Kiles and Keith Michael for Bedford Police officers Chase Hamilton and Clay Blackburn moved for a partial dismissal on March 6, 2023, seeking judgment as a matter of law on Count V (Intentional Infliction of Emotional distress), Count VI (Negligence), Count VII (Negligent Infliction of Emotional distress), and county VII (Trespass) in Tyler Barton's lawsuit filed against the officers.



In Judge Nikirk's' ruled in favor of the defendants with prejudice.


Attorneys Janielle P. Kiles and Keith Michael argued that the defendants were afforded statutory immunity afforded the officers under Indiana Tort Claim Act precludes them from being liable for the counts listed above.


Law enforcement immunity is applicable here because the lawsuit establishes that the two were acting on their scope of their employment as police officers and engaged in the enforcement of law.


Original story: Attorneys for Hamiliton and Clayburn ask Lawsuit to be partially dismissed


MARCH 21, 2023 - Bedford Police Officers Chase Hamilton and Clay Blackburn ask that the lawsuit against them be dismissed in response to the lawsuit filed against them by Tyler Barton in a court filing on March 7, 2023.



On March 8, 2023, attorneys for Bedford Mayor Sam Craig, Bedford Police Chief Terry Moore, Bedford City Council and City of Bedford filed their response to the lawsuit.


The lawsuit was filed in Lawrence County Circuit Court on January 6, 2023, on behalf of Tyler Barton in the misconduct of former Bedford Police Officer Morgan Lee and alleged misconduct by Bedford Police officers Hamiliton and Blackburn.


Greene County Circuit Judge Erik Allen has been appointed special Judge to preside over the case who was selected on February 3, 2023.


Tyler Barton, who is being represented by Michael Allen, Pamela Hensler, and Colleen Newbill from the law firm of Mallor / Grodner LLP requested the change of venue from Judge Nathan Nikirk on January 26, 2023.


Attorney's Danny Glass, Adam Glass, and Thomas Bryan will be representing Beford Police Chief Terry Moore, Bedford Mayor Sam Craig, and Beford Police Department.


Attorney's Janelle Killes and Keith Michaels will be representing Bedford Police Officers Chase Hamiliton, and Clay Blackburn.


Morgan Lee is being represented by the law firm Ruckelshaus, Kautzman, Blackwell, Bemis, Duncan & Merchant, LLP.


In the seventeen-page lawsuit filed by the law offices of Mallor / Grodner LLP on behalf of Tyler Barton of Bedford, alleges eight counts of civil torts that have occurred.


The complaint was filed against Bedford Police officers Morgan Lee, Chase Hamiliton, Clay Blackburn, and Bedford Police Chief Terry Moore, as well as Bedford Mayor Sam Craig, Bedford Police Department, and Bedford City Council and City of Bedford that Tyler Barton and says that Barton suffered damages as being attacked in his own home.


Eight Counts of Civil Torts Alleged:


  1. Deprivation of 1st Amendment

  2. Deprivation of 4th Amendment

  3. Deprivation of Rights for failure to intervene

  4. Battery

  5. Intentional infliction of emotional distress

  6. Negligence

  7. Negligent infliction of emotional distress

  8. Trespass

The motion to dismiss by their attorneys on behalf of the two officers, Bedford Police Officers Chase Hamiliton, and Clay Blackburn on the following counts include the following; Count V, intentional infliction of emotional distress, Count VI, negligence, Count VII, Negligent infliction of emotional distress, Count VIII, trespass on the grounds that statutory immunity afforded by the Indiana Tort Claim Act precludes officers Hamiliton and Blackburn from being held personally liable for such claims.


The response from their attorney's states both were acting within the scope of their employment and were enforcing the law at all times during the incident.


Attorneys for Morgan Lee and City of Bedford Mayor Sam Craig, Bedford Police Chief Terry Moore, Bedford City Council and City of Bedford filed in their responses; that the allegations alleged in the lawsuit were denied or denied the material allegations contained in the lawsuit.


However, the City of Bedford admitted that the actions of former Bedford Police Officer Morgan Lee were inconsistent with his training and within the department guidelines but denied the other material allegations contained in the lawsuit.


In addition, the City of Bedford admits there may be circumstances may present an opportunity for or may require an officer to intervene to prevent the use of excessive force by a fellow officer but deny the material allegations in the lawsuit alleged by Barton.


The City of Bedford admitted that circumstances may require care or arrangement for medical care but deny the other allegations contained in the lawsuit of Barton.


The City of Bedford additionally admits the conduct contained by Officers Hamilton and Blackburn were in their scope of their duties as Bedford Police Department but denied that the conduct of Lee was.


The City of Bedford admits to Lee and Hamilton were dispatched to the home but denied any other material allegations in the lawsuit.


Morgan Lee's attorney response was filed on March 10,2023, to the lawsuit which the response contained denials on most of the claims alleged in the lawsuit, however. some of the responses of Lee alleges that he was without enough information to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations.


According to Lee's response to the lawsuit only Tyler Barton, former Bedford Police Officer Morgan Lee and BPD Officer Hamilton were inside the home located in the 500 block of H Street.


Lee is requesting a jury trial on his behalf.


The lawsuit stems from the following events:


On January 8, 2021, Barton who resided at 510 H Street, accidently smashed his fingers in a door between the house and garage at his residence which he was injured.


Due to the injury, he yelled, shouted, and cursing due to the pain of the injury. Someone hearing this and reported it to the Bedford Police Department.


Bedford Police officers Chase Hamiliton and Clay Blackburn were dispatched to the location. The Bedford Police Department was on the location past January 8th into January 9th.


Both officers entered into Barton's home, and Officer Lee asked whether Barton needed an ambulance. Barton asked the police officers to leave the home.


Officers Morgan Lee and Chase Hamiliton did not leave the home as requested. Lee persisted in asking whether he wanted an ambulance. Only the three were inside the home at this time. In the lawsuit it is alleged that at this point the officers knew a crime was not committed and no one needed assistance.


Again, both Lee and Hamiliton were asked to leave the home, and the complaint alleges that the two remained inside the home without a legal right to do so.


Lee then turned off his body camera while inside the home, to conceal an attack on Barton. In the court documents it alleges that Lee began berating, cursing, and threatening Barton. Lee telling Barton " You are going to end on the wrong side of this,"


Barton replied by saying " No I do not want a f****n ambulance,"


Officer Morgan Lee telling Barton to " Hey shut the f***k up," Barton then replied " F***k you b***ch" According to Lee he approached Barton "in a way that was going to tell him he needed to show some respect,"


Lee then shoved Barton in his own home and then grabbed and violently threw him to the floor. While Barton was on the floor, causing an injury to the back of Barton's head. While still on the floor, Lee applied body weight to Barton's neck, throat, with his forearm or hand impeding Barton's breathing and causing Barton to feel he could no longer breath, to suffer pain and suffer mortal fear. Lee strangled Barton on the floor.


While being strangled by Officer Lee, Officer Hamiliton restrained Barton by holding Barton's legs.


In the complaint it says that both Officer Hamiliton and Blackburn had realistic opportunity to intervene prevent the attack. Neither officer intervened to rescue Barton. After the attack Lee turned his body camera back on.


Former Bedford Police Officer Morgan Lee pled guilty to Official misconduct by a public servant, and battery by a plea agreement in Lawrence County Superior Court I.


The charge of strangulation was dismissed.


Lee was sentenced on September 19, 2022, by Judge John Plummer III in Lawrence County Superior Court I, on a suspended sentence of 365 day in jail with one day credit, 363 days suspended, and will remain on supervised probation and 50 hours of community service. A special prosecutor, Chris Gaal, was assigned to the case. Lee was represented by Attorney Edward J. Merchant from the law firm of Ruckelshaus Kautzman Blackwell who represents police officers and firefighters. Indiana State Police investigated the misconduct allegations, and Bedford Police Chief Terry Moore asked for disciplinary actions by the Bedford Board of Works. Lee resigned from the Bedford Police Department effective August 6, 2021. Lee served with the Bedford Police Department since July 2010 and served as a field training officer for Bedford Police Department.


Below is the some of the court filings of from the lawsuit from Barton:

20230106 Complaint.pdf
.pdf
Download PDF • 157KB

Barton complaint and lawsuit

Ham & Black Motion to Dismiss.pd
.pdf
Download PDF • 122KB


Original news story: Lawsuit file against former Bedford Police Officer Morgan Lee, Police Chief Terry Moore, Officers Hamilton and Clayburn and City of Bedford


JANUARY 17, 2023 - A lawsuit had been filed against several police officers, including former Bedford Police Officer Morgan Lee, Bedford Police Chief Terry Moore and the City of Bedford in the case of former Bedford Police Officer Morgan Lee's misconduct on January 8, 2021.


The lawsuit was filed in Lawrence County Circuit Court on January 6, 2023.




In the seventeen-page lawsuit filed by the law offices of Mallor / Grodner LLP on behalf of Tyler Barton of Bedford, alleges eight counts of civil torts that have occurred.


The complaint was filed against Bedford Police officers Morgan Lee, Chase Hamiliton, Clay Blackburn, and Bedford Police Chief Terry Moore, as well as Bedford Mayor Sam Craig, Bedford Police Department, and Bedford City Council and City of Bedford that Tyler Barton and says that Barton suffered damages as being attacked in his own home.


Eight Counts of Civil Torts Alleged:

  1. Deprivation of 1st Amendment

  2. Deprivation of 4th Amendment

  3. Deprivation of Rights for failure to intervene

  4. Battery

  5. Intentional infliction of emotional distress

  6. Negligence

  7. Negligent infliction of emotional distress

  8. Trespass

On January 8, 2021, Barton who resided at 510 H Street, accidently smashed his fingers in a door between the house and garage at his residence which he was injured.


Due to the injury, he yelled, shouted, and cursing due to the pain of the injury. Someone hearing this and reported it to the Bedford Police Department.


Bedford Police officers Chase Hamiliton and Clay Blackburn were dispatched to the location. The Bedford Police Department was on the location past January 8th into January 9th.


Both officers entered into Barton's home, and Officer Lee asked whether Barton needed an ambulance. Barton asked the police officers to leave the home.


Officers Morgan Lee and Chase Hamiliton did not leave the home as requested. Lee persisted in asking whether he wanted an ambulance. Only the three were inside the home at this time. In the lawsuit it is alleged that at this point the officers knew a crime was not committed and no one needed assistance.


Again, both Lee and Hamiliton were asked to leave the home, and the complaint alleges that the two remained inside the home without a legal right to do so.


Lee then turned off his body camera while inside the home, to conceal an attack on Barton. In the court documents it alleges that Lee began berating, cursing, and threatening Barton. Lee telling Barton " You are going to end on the wrong side of this,"


Barton replied by saying " No I do not want a f****n ambulance,"


Officer Morgan Lee telling Barton to " Hey shut the f***k up," Barton then replied " F***k you b***ch" According to Lee he approached Barton "in a way that was going to tell him he needed to show some respect,"


Lee then shoved Barton in his own home and then grabbed and violently threw him to the floor. While Barton was on the floor, causing an injury to the back of Barton's head. While still on the floor, Lee applied body weight to Barton's neck, throat, with his forearm or hand impeding Barton's breathing and causing Barton to feel he could no longer breath, to suffer pain and suffer mortal fear. Lee strangled Barton on the floor.


While being strangled by Officer Lee, Officer Hamiliton restrained Barton by holding Barton's legs.


In the complaint it says that both Officer Hamiliton and Blackburn had realistic opportunity to intervene prevent the attack. Neither officer intervened to rescue Barton. After the attack Lee turned his body camera back on.


Former Bedford Police Officer Morgan Lee pled guilty to Official misconduct by a public servant, and battery by a plea agreement in Lawrence County Superior Court I. The charge of strangulation was dismissed.


Former Bedford Police Captain Morgan Lee


Lee was sentenced on September 19, 2022, by Judge John Plummer III in Lawrence County Superior Court I, on a suspended sentence of 365 day in jail with one day credit, 363 days suspended, and will remain on supervised probation and 50 hours of community service.


A special prosecutor, Chris Gaal, was assigned to the case. Lee was represented by Attorney Edward J. Merchant from the law firm of Ruckelshaus Kautzman Blackwell who represents police officers and firefighters.


Indiana State Police investigated the misconduct allegations, and Bedford Police Chief Terry Moore asked for disciplinary actions by the Bedford Board of Works. Lee resigned from the Bedford Police Department effective August 6, 2021.


Lee served with the Bedford Police Department since July 2010 and served as a field training officer for Bedford Police Department.


The civil lawsuit the case is just in its preliminary stages.


Lawrence County Zephyr has reached out to City of Bedford attorney Greg Pittman for a response.


Lawrence County Zephyr will monitor developments in the civil lawsuit.


For breaking news, news and information go to lczephyr.org or like/follow the Lawrence County Facebook page.


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