By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Michigan Judge George Steeh declined to dismiss a lawsuit by a man shot and killed by Dearborn police in 2015, according to the Associated Press.
Kevin Matthews was shot nine times on Dec. 23, 2015, by Dearborn Police Officer Chris Hampton in Detroit following a foot chase and struggle. In Steeh’s opinion explanation April 29, experts have cast doubt on Hampton’s explanation.
“Hampton says Matthews was a threat because he was grabbing for the officer’s gun,” the AP wrote. “Hampton was pursuing him for a probation violation. But two gun experts who analyzed the evidence believe the 215-pound officer was standing over the 140-pound Matthews and shooting down. The judge says a jury will sort out the facts.”
The police report said Hampton was on his back, shooting up at Matthews.
The Matthews family filed the $10 million lawsuit against Hampton and the city of Dearborn in October 2016. According to Matthews’ family, he suffered from some type of mental illness and was unarmed, which relatives stated at the time of the incidents.
A year following the shooting, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced she would not file any charges against Hampton.
“After careful analysis we have concluded that we cannot prove the Matthews case beyond a reasonable doubt because of the laws of self-defense,” Worthy said in a press release.
Police officers were dispatched to a gas station on Tireman and Greenfield Dec. 23, 2015, on a report of a disturbance.
Matthews allegedly was harassing a female clerk inside and when police arrived, they Matthews to step outside; he, instead, fled on foot.
That same day, Hampton was conducting a traffic stop near the same location when he saw Matthews and informed dispatch he would attempt to make contact with him.
When Matthews walked past the traffic stop area, Hampton crossed into Detroit to speak with him on the prior incident and warrant violation.
Hampton pursed Matthews on foot yelling for him to stop, but the chase continued to a backyard in the 8800 block of Whitcomb where the shooting took place.
Five witnesses were interviewed and stated that the officer and Matthews “engaged in an intense struggle that started in the grass near the fence line.”
It ended in the driveway when Matthews stood over the officer and pulled the ammunition magazine from the duty belt. Hampton was still on his back when he fired the nine shots killing Matthews, the police report said.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])