Jury deadlocks in civil trial for fatal Tempe PD shooting of Dalvin Hollins
A U.S. District Court judge has declared a mistrial in a federal case surrounding the fatal Tempe police shooting of 19-year-old Dalvin Hollins in 2016 after the jury remained deadlocked on all but two claims on Wednesday.
An attorney representing Sarah Coleman, Hollins’ mother, filed a civil suit in 2017 alleging wrongful death, excessive force and other violations in her son’s death.
The mistrial only applies to the claims for which the jury could not reach a decision.
Tempe police responded to reports of a robbery with a suspect who was possibly armed at a Walgreens near McClintock and Guadalupe roads on July 27, 2016. Officers saw Hollins, who fit the description of the suspect, walking nearby and attempted to contact him.
Hollins fled and two officers, including Lt. Edward Ouimette, pursued him. Ouimette told Hollins he would shoot him if he didn’t stop running, according to his police report.
Ouimette wrote in his report that he saw Hollins reach for a “black semi-automatic handgun.” He fired one round, striking the teenager in the back.
Hollins retreated into a maintenance shed at a senior living facility, where he died from his injuries.
Neither officer activated their body-worn cameras until after the shooting.
Court records obtained by The Arizona Republic said the jury resumed deliberations at 9 a.m. Wednesday, the eighth day of the trial. The jury recessed and reconvened several times before reaching a unanimous verdict on two claims shortly before 2 p.m.
The jury decided in favor of Ouimette on Fourteenth Amendment familial association claims by Coleman and Hollins’ father, Calvin Hollins. In order to have won their claims, the City of Tempe said the pair must have proved Hollins was killed by Ouimette’s use of unconstitutional excessive force and that he “acted with a purpose to harm Dalvin Collins unrelated to legitimate law enforcement objectives.”
The jury decided in Coleman’s and Hollins’ favor on their battery claim against Ouimette but remained deadlocked on the remaining claims. The judge declared a mistrial on those claims and the jury was excused, according to court records.
The trial for claims of wrongful death on the basis of the City of Tempe being negligent in its training or supervision and excessive force on Ouimette’s part was scheduled for Feb. 28.
Darien Barret, Hollin’s friend and police brutality activist, spoke to The Arizona Republic and shared that the mistrial has taken an emotional toll on him and Hollin’s family.
“I’m upset about it because we’re all waiting on an answer,” said Barret. “Me, family, friends; people who have taken to the streets in order to get justice for my friend.”
The City of Tempe released a statement on Wednesday evening that called Hollins’ death a “tragedy” but added that it believes the actions of Ouimette and the Tempe Police Department were “within city and police policies and state and federal law.”
The statement noted that the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office did not charge Ouimette in the case. The Attorney’s Office announced its decision in April 2017, saying Ouimette had reason to believe his life was in danger.
“The City of Tempe continues to support the dedicated men and women who serve in the Tempe Police Department and acknowledges the difficult jobs they do every day to protect our community,” the statement said.
It went on to detail the City’s policing policy reforms and initiatives in recent years, which include its Community Safety Strategic Plan that it said was meant to “plan the future of trusted policing and innovative response in the City of Tempe.”
Barret said he believes the lack of transparency from the officers is delaying a final decision and he added that he would like to have a different jury in the upcoming trial.
“I’m tired of waiting,” he said. “I really hope this is the last time that we have to go to trial.”
Attorneys for Coleman and the City of Tempe did not respond to The Republic’s requests for further comment.
Reporters Jerod MacDonald-Evoyand Laura Daniella Sepúlveda contributed to this report.
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