Wrongful death case against Middletown police officers to go to trial

Posted: Updated:
MIDDLETOWN -

A civil case is moving forward following the acquittal of Middletown police officers accused of fatally shooting a mentally disabled man back in 2013.

High profile civil rights attorney Michael Sussman spoke out on Thursday about the wrongful death lawsuit against City of Middletown police and the two officers involved in the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Leonard Whittle.

“Leonard Whittle was a mentally disabled individual," Sussman said. "We believe that was known to the police. He was not, at the moment he was shot, threatening the police.”

A federal court judge ruled to move the civil case to a jury trial on Tuesday.

Whittle, who was bipolar, was killed in 2013 by Middletown police after chasing a man in a convenience store with a kitchen knife. Officers opened fire outside of the store, when Whittle allegedly refused to drop the weapon.

A grand jury cleared the police of any wrong doing, but Sussman, who represents Whittle's mother, says the use of excessive force was not justified. He also says officer shot at least 10 rounds, three of which fatally struck Whittle in the chest.

News 12 has reached out to the City of Middletown Police Department and mayor's office for comment, but calls were not returned.

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