Family of man shot to death by Liberty policeman files lawsuit

December 17, 2003

LEXINGTON - The family of a Liberty man who was shot to death earlier this year by a police officer has filed a $16 million federal lawsuit claiming negligence and wrongful death against the city of Liberty and the officer, Leon Daniel Cook Jr., according to records in U.S. District Court.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Lexington, concerns the shooting death of Leon R. Brown, who died of a gunshot wound July 30, allegedly by Cook, who was on duty and responding to a call.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Brown's parents: Dorothy Mae and James C. Brown, of Liberty, co-administrators of their son's estate; Steve Rogers of Marion County, and Deborah Woodall, as next friend of Leslie Mariea Owens of Lincoln County, a minor. Rogers and Owens are children of the victim, according to the document.

The actions by Cook in "using deadly force in an attempt to seize and/or apprehend the decedent were objectively unreasonable and violated the decedent's right to be free of unreasonable seizure," without due process of law, according to the lawsuit.


The lawsuit claims Cook's actions "were so brutal, demeaning and harmful so as to shock the conscience of any reasonable citizen" and were "inspired by malice or sadism rather than a merely careless or unwise excess of zeal, the therefore amounted to brutal and inhumane abuse of his official power."

The shooting took place at the residence of Dorothy Mae Brown, 443 Trammel St., Liberty. The lawsuit claims Cook came "without legal process" and that Leon Brown was reclined, posing no immediate threat when he was shot by Cook.

Claiming the city failed to adequately screen the background of Cook before hiring him as an officer, the lawsuit states argues "a deliberate indifference by the city to the federally protected rights of the plaintiffs and the deceased."

Brown's parents demand a $5 million judgment for compensatory damages; and the others seek a $1 million judgment in compensatory damages. The lawsuits seek $10 million in punitive and or vindictive damages.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs are Joseph H. Mattingly III and Theodore H. Lavit & Associates, of Lebanon.

The lawsuit gives only the plaintiffs' side of the case.

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