The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments Thursday in the March 24, 2013 death of Khari Neville Illidge after he was shot with a Taser 19 times and pinned on the ground by an officer.
Attorney John Paul Schnapper-Casteras is representing Illidge’s mother, Gladis Callwood, in her civil suit against the city of Phenix City, Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones, Charles W. Jenkins Jr., Steven M. Mills, Raymond Smith, Joey Williams, David Butler and Shawn Sheely. It is the third case in Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr. U.S. Courthouse in Montgomery, Ala.
The court hearing comes after summary judgment was granted to all defendants on the federal claims of excessive force. In a November 2016 order, the court couldn’t conclude that law enforcement officials of Phenix City and Lee County can be held liable under the federal law because the reasonableness of the use of Tasers , body weight and restraints in detaining suspects who resist arrest dictates that conclusion.
Illidge of Columbus was with a friend on March 24, 2013 when he started acting strangely, pulling off his clothes and walking down the road toward his friend’s yard. The friend’s mother came home and called Lee County authorities.
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Mills and Smith, traveling in separate patrol vehicles, answered the 6:45 p.m. call about a naked man running down Lee County Road 314. Smith received a second call regarding a man entering a house on Lee Road 308.
A dashboard video from Mills patrol vehicle shows that Illidge was in front of the deputy’s vehicle. Mills said on his radio the man is mentally ill and possibly under the influence as he walked away while the deputy called him. Mills fired his Taser X26 at the man but he did not drop but started walking away.
Mills fired five times with his Taser before the naked man headed toward another resident on Pierce Road. With help from Smith on the scene, Mills pursued Illidge . The naked man was at the rear door of a doctor’s home when the officers ordered him to stop and get on the ground but he refused their orders.
After making a rapid move toward Smith, Illidge was hit with a Taser and fell to ground on his stomach. Smith fired his Taser 14 times in addition to five from Mills of Phenix City. While on ground, the man was handcuffed.
Phenix City officers Sheely and Williams arrived on the scene. Leg irons were placed on the man as Williams, who alone weighed about 385 pounds, placed a knee between Illidge shoulder blades and another in the middle of his back.
Twenty-three minutes after the first Taser was fired, the man became unresponsive and a white, frothy substance and blood spewed from his nose and mouth. He was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
An autopsy showed that no LSD was found in his system.
Neither Jones, the sheriff of Lee County, nor Raymond J. Smith, the chief of Phenix City, were present at the scene but claims were filed against them in their individual capacities on a failure to train.