County sued for $300,000 by deputy who shot own foot

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

From staff reports

A sheriff's deputy who "shot himself in the foot" 13 months ago sued Marshall County just before Christmas saying he'd not been told how to use a new holster and, on Thursday, the county denied the allegation he'd not been trained in how to use the holster.

Former Sheriff's Deputy Gregory Wade Levi "shot himself in the foot" on Dec. 27, 2010, according to a report signed by Chief Deputy Billy Lamb. After nearly a year of recuperation, Levi sought to resume his law enforcement career of some 24 years, but Sheriff Norman Dalton replied that he had no job open for a man who's restricted by doctor's orders to light duty.

Levi and his wife, Angela, sued Dalton and the county asking for $300,000 in compensatory damages, according to the complaint filed by their attorney, Clay Parker of Shelbyville.

They want a jury trial, but the county's attorney replies that under the state tort liability act, a judge must rule on the case without the intervention of a jury.

The Sheriff's training officers weren't consulted about the purchase of Blackhawk Threat Level III brand holsters that were issued to deputies on Dec. 23, 2010, Parker wrote in the complaint. Training officers didn't know about the holsters being issued to deputies until after Levi was injured.

"There was no training administered and the manufacturer's safety warning, as to training, was ignored by Sheriff Dalton," the complaint states.

Those allegations are denied by the county, as represented by Nashville attorney Brandt McMillan and co-counsel Robyn B. Williams.

"The holster ... is not complicated and ... Levi received the written manufacturer's directions at its (the holster's) issuance," the county's lawyers wrote.

The case is to be heard in Marshall County Circuit Court. The county is asking that the case be dismissed.

Levi, while attempting to put his service weapon in the newly issued holster "experienced difficulty safely holstering it because of inadequate or no training and, as a result, the weapon fell to the floor, striking a flag box, causing it to discharge" with a bullet striking Levi's "foot/ankle area."

A point of a triangular display case for an American flag went between the trigger and trigger guard, resulting in discharge of the weapon in a freak accident, Levi explained late last year when asked about his injury. Levi said the gun's trigger broke when it fell on the wood frame.

McMillan and Williams wrote that since Levi accepted workers compensation in connection with his injury, the county should not have to pay him more.