Shot woman's family sues city, firing officer - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Shot woman's family sues city, firing officer

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2007 mug shot of Alice Warren (Dougherty Co. Jail) 2007 mug shot of Alice Warren (Dougherty Co. Jail)

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

August 4, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - An Albany woman's family claims a police officer used excessive force he shot her, and now they're suing the officer and the Albany Police Department.

Two years ago, Alice Warren jumped out of a closet in an abandoned house on South Davis Street. Corporal Vy Chu who was there to investigate a trespassing complaint was startled and shot Warren in the chest. She survived.

Attorneys for the family actually filed the suit in Superior Court.  It was City Attorney Nathan Davis and an attorney for Officer Vy Chu that requested it be moved to federal court, and now they're asking that this lawsuit be dismissed completely.

The house where Alice Warren was shot in July 2006 is now just a vacant lot.  While the house is gone, questions still haunt her family, and now they've filed a lawsuit hoping to find answers. 

 "If a police officer who is entrusted with the ability to use deadly force shoots one of our citizens for no reason, aren't we apt to have at least some explanation as to why that was done," says Warren's attorney Alfred Corriere.  

Alice Warren's attorneys claim Corporal Chu shot Warren without any warning, provocation, or justification whatsoever.

"They have a specific policy dealing with the use of deadly force that's in conformity with what the Georgia law required in that regard, in that you only use deadly force in two instances, one of them is when you want to prevent grievous bodily injury to yourself or another person," Corriere said.  

They claim the other is when an officer wants to prevent the commission of a forcible felony such as a rape, murder, or aggravated assault.  City Attorney Nathan Davis says the suit initially filed in Superior Court is a Constitutional law issue which is why they asked it be moved to federal court, now they asked Judge Louis Sands to dismiss the case because the allegations of excessive force are unwarranted.

" We couldn't tell what they're claiming so that's why we've asked the court to dismiss it, from the standpoint that we don't read it as any constitutional law violation," Davis says.

He claims Corporal Chu is entitled to do his job like other officers and they shouldn't be subject to a lawsuit for doing that.

"Officers like Chu or any other officer is entitled to what's called qualified immunity from lawsuits.  Immunity is not just a defense you raise at a trial.  Immunity means you shouldn't even be sued and the city is entitled to the exact same things so we view this as a case that has to allege something to try to even pierce the immunity idea," Davis says.

A hearing has been scheduled for the 26th in federal court to determine if this lawsuit will be allowed to go forward. 

Corporal Vy Chu has since been moved to the Albany Dougherty Drug Unit.

After the shooting, police found a butcher knife in Alice Warren's purse.

Warren has a history of run-ins with the law. She had previously been arrested for stabbing her brother.

And last November, Dougherty County had to lock down four schools after Warren made threats against her children's lives.

A mental health hearing listed Warren as bi-polar and prone to roam the streets.  She remains in her mother's care, who also serves as Warren's conservator.

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