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Va. Sheriff's Office Denied Immunity in Standoff Fire Lawsuit

November 11, 2013  | 

The Sullivan County (Va.) Sheriff’s Office’s lost its bid for immunity against being sued for burning down a mobile home during a botched standoff two years ago, the Bristol Herald Courier reports.

U.S. District Judge J. Ronnie Greer, instead of writing off the blaze as the result of a good-faith mistake, has decided that a jury should decide whether police resorted to heavy-handed tactics when tossing inside a dozen teargas grenades for a fugitive who might not have been there.

“The Court cannot conclude that the officers are entitled to qualified immunity regarding the force used and the destruction of the plaintiffs’ home,” Greer wrote in an opinion filed in Greeneville, Tenn. “The reasonableness of their actions quite candidly must be decided by a jury based on the current state of this record.”

At the same time, the judge tossed out a host of such claims as conspiracy to inflict emotional distress, violation of free speech, outrageous conduct and violation of due process rights.

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