Highland Park Sued by Family After Cops Fatally Shoot Man

Highland Park is being sued by the family of the first person ever killed by the town’s police force.

David Hartman’s family filed the lawsuit July 30 in state district court. The case was transferred to federal court last week because the family is claiming that Hartman’s constitutional rights were violated.

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David Hartman

Hartman was shot the evening of June 4 in Park Cities Plaza, the shopping center on Mockingbird Lane between SMU and North Central Expressway. Less than two hours later, the town’s Department of Public Safety released a statement that said the two officers who had detained him returned fire after he shot at them first from inside their patrol vehicle. But in a letter sent to Highland Park residents later that week, Mayor Joel Williams and Chris Vinson, the town’s director of public safety, said Hartman escaped from the vehicle before pointing a gun at the officers.

The Dallas County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident, to determine how the Highland Park officers apparently missed Hartman’s gun and how he freed himself from a set of handcuffs. Because that investigation is ongoing, Sgt. Lance Koppa, the town’s spokesman, declined to comment on the lawsuit, which was first reported Aug. 29 by the Dallas Observer.

The initial DPS statement and the subsequent letter both said Hartman was detained after a female driver called 911 because she thought a motorcycle was following her. A motorcycle matching the caller’s description was found in Park Cities Plaza, police said, and Hartman tried to flee on foot when he saw two officers waiting for him.

Hartman had a criminal record, but no crimes are mentioned in his family’s lawsuit, which also does not include the detail about Hartman shooting at Highland Park police. Instead, the lawsuit says he “had no plans to do anything other than flee with a firearm; he was not pointing it at or near anyone.”

The lawsuit alleges that the officers shot Hartman twice in the back and once in the leg. It also says that at least one of the officers shot him at close range when he was lying facedown on the ground.

The suit cites the Civil Rights Act and the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth amendments as it claims the Highland Park officers used “excessive and deadly force” and deprived Hartman of “his rights to be free from unlawful seizures and objectively unreasonable force.”

By contrast, Williams and Vinson thanked the officers in their letter to the town’s residents, saying, “There is absolutely no doubt in our mind that this individual was in our community to commit a violent crime, and that he would have done so had he not been apprehended.”

The plaintiffs are residents of the Collin County city of Celina and the Grayson County towns of Gunter and Pottsboro. They are being represented by Felix Cox, an attorney based in Bryan.

9 thoughts on “Highland Park Sued by Family After Cops Fatally Shoot Man

  • September 5, 2013 at 10:12 am
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    Ridiculous. This trashy family thinks it’s going get some money from this community because their son was a career criminal who ended up dying by the sword here. BS.

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  • September 5, 2013 at 10:22 am
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    At least we see intelligence runs in their family.

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  • September 5, 2013 at 10:56 am
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    Yeah this is absurd. I am sure the HP police used sound judgement. They are the best of the best, and are not “trigger happy” these are mature, sound and competent law enforcement officers. I always feel safe in the Park Cities area, and so does my family. I never like seeing anyone killed, but I am sure they made a decision they felt at the time was the right one.

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  • September 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm
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    I read the news on the internet and I want to say my mother wanted to sue the city of highland park it happened one night as I was coming home I went down the ally and I saw someone running after me I did not know it was the police so I ran into my house during the chase the police fell down and injured himself and they came into my house after me and caused my mother to fall down and injury herself after that she got sick and never got well and later died and no charges were filed and no arrest was made over this I think this was horrible and I now reside the state of washington

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  • September 5, 2013 at 4:56 pm
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    I find it wildly interesting that the only punctuation in the comment above is in the name: dennis beecherl.bainbridge island washington

    I’m sorry for your loss though.

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  • September 6, 2013 at 12:13 am
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    First – why were cops chasing you in the first place. Cops don’t just chase people at random

    Second – you running from the cops into your house has as much merit as the cops entering the house after you to which caused your mother to fall. Had you not run you would not be in the house and thus your mother would not have fallen

    Third – who cares you reside in Washington that has no relevancy in this discussion

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  • September 6, 2013 at 9:10 am
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    @What. HP cops actually have been known to stop and question and maybe even search high school kids who are walking after dark or who don’t look like Biff and Buffy or who drive an old car. Dennis said he ran because he didn’t realize it was police approaching him. I believe he could be telling the truth, at least as he saw it.

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  • September 6, 2013 at 10:56 pm
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    I have absolutely no sympathy for this person. The horrible part is the child/children and family he wasnt there for and WONT be there for bc he was too busy doing wrong.. I.e. getting high, stealing bikes, and selling dope/shacked up with a meth addict female in Arlington. I believe he was “on a mission” to do something horrible. Its very ironic that he was taken out by the cops before he could complete his “mission” of evil because a motorist thought he was following. Thats called poetic justice. That’s what happens to folks that ruin other’s lives. Karma. Why do i feel so strongly about this? I tried saving that very same meth addict in arlington he was staying with from that lifestyle in the months leading up to this only to have her go straight back to it and she happened to meet this guy. If you or anyone you know is addicted to drugs, please try to help yourself/them before something bad like this happens. Livig life is a much better option than the possible outcomes of this lifestyle. David Hartman only knows one thing at this point, its better to be alive. Sad but very true.

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  • Pingback:Killed – David Hartman (Dallas, TX) | Shot in the USA: Gun Violence After Newtown

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