March 23, 2013 in City

Family of man killed by police sues

Lawsuit claims dog chewed on victim at scene
By The Spokesman-Review
 

The family of a man shot and killed by Spokane police officers in 2011 is suing the city of Spokane for $175,000, claiming investigators failed to protect his body as a dog desecrated the corpse.

Kenneth R. Dennis, 26, was shot and killed by officers around 4 a.m. on Jan. 16, 2011, after they responded to a domestic dispute and found him armed with a knife at his home at 5726 N. Elgin St.

His body remained on the living room floor for about six hours while detectives investigated the scene, and during that time a dog ate a portion of his face, according to Breean Beggs, one of the family’s attorneys.

Dennis’ mother, Audrey Dennis, “horrifically witnessed his mutilated” face and body when he was laid to rest, the lawsuit filed on Wednesday says. The damage to her son’s face could not be repaired and required a closed casket.

Friends and family were unable to intervene to preserve the body because police seized control of the home and excluded them, the lawsuit alleges.

The family claims Dennis’ body was intentionally left unattended while a dog came in through an open door and chewed the body.

Investigators identified Officer Chris McMurtrey as the shooter. Officer Dave Overhoff also responded to the scene prior to the shooting, documents show.

Dennis almost stabbed a police officer, according to court documents filed in 2011. The family claims the officers did not announce their arrival and Dennis armed himself with a knife as they broke in, Beggs said.

A large knife was found near Dennis’ body, reports said.

Dennis lacked a substantial criminal record prior to the incident.

The shooting was investigated by the Washington State Patrol through the Spokane Investigative Regional Response Team, which investigates police-related shootings and use-of-force incidents.

The shooting was deemed justified, according to the Prosecutor’s Office.

The city is aware of the lawsuit and is reviewing it, according to city spokesman Brian Coddington. The city has 20 days to respond in writing to the suit.

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