Man finds stray dog takes it to animal shelter and is killed. Dothan Alabama – After 4 years police are forced to release video of Officer Adrianne Woodruff murdering man in front of his three children. A Federal court says that officer Woodruff can be sued.
It began with a stray dog.
Robert Earl Lawrence said he found the dog wandering a Wal-Mart parking lot in Dothan in south Alabama. He put the canine in his car with his girlfriend and their three small children, each child under the age of 10. The family drove to the Dothan Animal Shelter.
There Lawrence was asked for his driver’s license, he declined to show it. City employees said they couldn’t accept a stray dog if he didn’t show a license. He said they didn’t have the right to require a license. He said he’d drop the dog elsewhere. They said he couldn’t leave if he was going to dump the dog. He was stuck, grew agitated, walked outside.
About eight minutes before he would be shot, Lawrence can be heard telling his girlfriend in the front seat to record on her cellphone: “This will be good,” he said.
Eight minutes later Officer Adrianne Woodruff reached her arm through a melee, between the arms of two officers tugging at Lawrence, to press the barrel of her service weapon into in his gut and, without warning or utterance, pull the trigger.
The shooting took place Dec. 30, 2014. Despite public interest in the case, the dashcam video was not released to the public.
On July 25, a federal magistrate found grounds for proceeding with a lawsuit against the officer who fired the fatal shot. Attorneys representing Lawrence’s family released the video this month.
The suit and the video shed light on internal shooting reviews in a state where police rarely release bodycam video to the public.
In 2015, Dothan Police Department cleared their officer, Adrianne Woodruff, stating in reports that Lawrence had taken control of her Taser and was an armed threat. But U.S. Magistrate Judge David Baker disagreed late last month, saying Lawrence did not flee and whether he ever had control of her Taser is a matter for a jury to determine.
Lawrence was not armed. In a closeup video, Lawrence can be seen grabbing the Taser as it is being used like a cattle prod to shock him. He was being held from behind by another officer at the time of the shooting. A third officer was pulling on his arm.
“It is undisputed that Woodruff gave no warning before shooting Lawrence,” wrote the magistrate last month, nearly three and a half years after shooting. The magistrate also reported that Woodruff admitted Lawrence did not threaten her physically nor verbally, but that his mannerisms and his “getting in her face” made her “uncomfortable.”
The magistrate, in the recommendation to the federal judge, wrote that “a jury could conclude that Lawrence did not pose a serious threat of harm to the officers to warrant the use of deadly force by Woodruff.”
Attorney Hank Sherrod, who represents Lawrence’s family in the lawsuit, said Lawrence reached for the barrel of Taser to stop the pain. “The video makes clear she let go of the Taser to shoot him,” said Sherrod. “This guy did not have to die.”
The suit details a police stop gone wrong, an incident leaving three children without a father and an officer unemployed and suffering from PTSD.
Chris Cantu was Lawrence’s cousin. He temporarily took care of Lawrence’s three young children. Two of them were in the car that day. The third child present was the son of Lawrence’s girlfriend.
Meanwhile, Woodruff last summer testified that the trauma from the shooting helped end her career. She retired in 2015.
“What caused your PTSD?” asked attorneys in the suit during a deposition. “The shooting,” she said.
She testified the shooting was justified, she was in danger and she would do the same thing again. She noted that she never received any criticism nor discipline from within the department.
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