Family of Unarmed Black Man, Beaten & Shot in the Back by Police, Sues for Justice

Video poking holes in the police version of events is available here.

WICHITA, KS, 8/9/2018 – The family of 24-year-old Matthew Holmes, beaten and shot to death last August by a county sheriff’s deputy, and then beaten further while he lay dying, sued the McPherson and Harvey County, Kansas Sheriff’s Departments, City of Newton, and several officers in federal court today.

The family and their attorneys will hold a 2 pm press conference today in front of the United States Courthouse, 401 N. Market Street, Wichita, Kansas.

As the suit notes,

“Although Mr. Holmes had fled from the police, immediately before the shooting, he exited his car slowly with his hands up. Despite clear signs of surrender, Defendant [Anthony] Hawpe attacked him, including using a police dog as a weapon. Defendant Hawpe then jumped on top of Mr. Holmes. As Defendant Hawpe physically attacked Mr. Holmes, Defendant [Chris] Somers shot Mr. Holmes in the back. Almost simultaneously, an unknown Harvey County Sheriff’s deputy hit Mr. Holmes in the head with the butt of a shotgun. Defendants’ beating of Mr. Holmes did not stop even after Defendant Somers fatally shot him. Defendant Hawpe continued to punch Mr. Holmes’ face and head, and Defendant [Skyler] Hinton struck Mr. Holmes repeatedly with a club as Mr. Holmes lay dying….”

Not only did the officers not render Mr. Holmes any aid while he lingered before dying, but they can be heard laughing on video tape while doing nothing to help. To make matters worse they attempted to cover-up their wrongdoing by turning off their bodycams, perhaps a violation of their departments’ policy. Police film of the attack shows that Officer Somers lied when he falsely claimed that Holmes was reaching for a weapon.

Nonetheless, none of the officers were disciplined, let alone criminally charged, for their actions and inactions. The suit not only notes that the Newton Police Department has been accused several times before of using excessive force, citing five previous suits, but that people of color are disproportionately the victims of these assaults. Moreover, some of the officers personally knew Mr. Holmes and knew that he suffered from schizophrenia, but took no actions to deescalate the conflict.

Mr. Holmes is survived by his mother, Wendy Couser. As executor of Mr. Holmes’ estate, Ms. Couser is represented by Mark Loevy-Reyes, Joshua Loevy, Arthur Loevy and Jon Loevy of the Chicago-based law firm, Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law. Loevy & Loevy has won more multi-million-dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the country. A copy of the suit, Estate of Matthew Holmes, by and through administrator, Wendy Couser, as administrator and individually, vs. Chris Somers, Anthony Hawpe, Jason Achilles, Skyler Hinton, Jerry Montagne, et al., No. 6:18-cv-01221, is available here.

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