A jury in New York held the City liable for $2.5 million in the case of a police officer who shot and killed a car thief who struck the officer with his car.
The Supreme Court, Kings County, jury found that officer John Chell intentionally shot the driver, Ortanzso Bovell, from above and behind after he regained his feet. Bovell, a 25-year-old unemployed man, was killed with a single shot to the heart on Aug. 7, 2008.
Plaintiff attorney Jon L. Norinsberg of Norinsberg Law in New York recovered the verdict on March 17, 2017 after a five-week trial. The case is Lorna Wright-Bovell as Administrator of the Estate of Ortanzso Bovell v. The City of New York and John Chell, Case. No. 25659/09.
According to Norinsberg, Bovell was observed in a stolen vehicle by officer Chell and three other officers. The officers approached the vehicle at a red light with guns drawn. Bovell put the car in drive and struck several cars, trying to flee the scene.
The driver crashed into a metal gate where he was then surrounded by the officers again. He put the car into reverse, striking officer Chell with the driver’s side door and knocking him to the ground. At this point officer Chell claimed his gun went off accidentally.
The bullet struck Bovell in the upper left part of his back, hitting the third rib, and traveling through his lung and into the left ventricle of his heart, killing him.
Chell claimed that firearm discharged as he was being hit by the vehicle, however, the ballistics analysis of the trajectory of the bullet was not consistent with his version of events. Plaintiff’s expert forensic pathologist testified that plaintiff was conscious for between 4-5 minutes after the gunshot before he lost consciousness.
The jury found that Chell fired his weapon intentionally at plaintiff, that a battery had been committed, and awarded $2,500,000 for Bovell's conscious pain and suffering.
The plaintiff experts were John Baeza of Brooksville, FL, testifying on police practices and procedures, pathologist Lone Thanning, MD, of Huntington, NY, and Bruno R. Valenti of Smithtown, NY, testifying about firearms and ballistics.