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Lawsuit filed against city of Fort Wayne, police officer in death

Saturday, December 22, 2012 - 7:05 am

A Chicago woman has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city of Fort Wayne and a Fort Wayne Police officer on behalf of the estate of a man killed in a police-action shooting. two years ago.

Alana Jones, of Chicago, as administrator of the estate of Yahree J. Cavin, has filed a lawsuit in Allen Superior Court against the city and police Sgt. Mark Dolezal. Jones, who is listed as the mother of Cavin's son in the lawsuit, was present and holding their son during the shooting, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit stems from the police-action shooting death of Cavin on Dec. 21, 2010. Cavin, 23, of Fort Wayne, was pronounced dead at Parkview Hospital after being shot by Dolezal, a 22-year veteran, whose actions were later ruled to be justified.

According to a Fort Wayne Police report filed at the time of the shooting, police were called by two men working in an apartment building at 2020 S. Harrison St. who said they were confronted by a man with what appeared to be a firearm. When police arrived, Cavin allegedly pointed what appeared to be a handgun at officers, according to police. Police later found the gun to be an Airsoft gun, which resembles a real firearm but shoots plastic pellets. The Indiana State Police conducted an investigation into the shooting and Dolezal was given paid administrative leave for five days, both standard policies, said police spokeswoman Officer Raquel Foster.

The Allen County prosecutor's office reviewed the shooting and did not file any charges from the incident after determining that Dolezal was justified in his action.

According to the facts in the lawsuit, Cavin had returned home from a trip to the mailbox and walked into his apartment and shut the door. Shortly after that Dolezal had arrived at Cavin's door, and after Cavin partially opened the door, Dolezal forced it open the rest of the way, entering the apartment with other police officers.

According to the lawsuit the following occurred: Cavin was standing in the apartment's living room. Dolezal ordered Cavin to face and put his hands on the wall. Cavin was asked by another police officer if he had a weapon, at which Cavin is alleged to have responded he had a toy handgun.

At that point Cavin reached into his pocket and pulled out a toy handgun to give to the police; while he was handing the toy gun to the officers he and Jones were telling police that the gun was in fact a toy, according to the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, despite Cavin telling the officer it was a toy gun the officer yelled, “Taser, taser, taser” and discharged his taser into Cavin. During the discharge of the taser, which, according to the court documents, lasted 5 seconds, Dolezal fired a gunshot into Cavin's back.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial, damages, costs and attorney’s fees.