Durham News

Duke University, two officers sued in 2010 shooting

Duke University and two of its police officers involved in a shooting in 2010 are now being sued, according to court documents.

Aaron Lorenzo Dorsey, 25, was killed March 13, 2010 outside of Duke Hospital when officers responding to a report of a suspicious person in front of the hospital shot him. According to court documents, Dorsey was at the hospital to get medical care.

Officers Larry Carter and Jeffrey Liberto have been accused of using “unreasonable and excessive force against the unarmed and helpless [Aaron Dorsey],” by Chapel Hill lawyer Adam Stein, who is representing the administrator of Dorsey’s estate in the case. Dorsey was allegedly panhandling’ in front of the hospital, according to the court documents.

According to a news release from Duke after the incident, Dorsey attacked one of the officers and tried to grab a gun from one of them. One of the officers shot Dorsey in the head. The statement does not specify which officer was attacked and which fired the shot that killed Dorsey.

The lawsuit states that the shooting was a violation of federal civil rights. “[The shooting] was without legal justification or provocation, and was employed without objectively fearing for their, or another’s life/lives, and therefore amounted to unnecessary, unreasonable, excessive, and/or deadly force,” according to the federal complaint filed May 7.

The lawsuit also accuses the two officers of showing “deliberate indifference to [Dorsey’s] serious medical needs.” The documents did not describe what sort of medical attention Dorsey was seeking at the hospital.

In a separate claim that is part of Stein’s lawsuit, Duke University is being accused of “inadequately and improperly investigating citizen complaints of police misconduct,” as well as inadequately training its police officers. It is believed that the police officers involved in this case believed their actions would not be “properly monitored by supervisory officers and that misconduct would not be investigated or sanctioned, but would be tolerated.”

Carter still works for Duke. Liberto is currently a member of the Durham Police Department.

Stein is seeking $225,000 in claims for two civil rights claims and a wrongful death claim.

Michael Schoenfeld, Duke’s vice president for public affairs and government relations, released the following statement: “Mr. Dorsey’s death was a tragedy and our sympathies go to his family and friends. However, both internal and external investigations of the incident have found that the Duke officers acted properly and responsibly given the circumstances, and we intend to vigorously defend against this lawsuit.”