Tucson police officers violated a man’s constitutional rights when he was shot and killed during an altercation in an apartment, a federal judge has ruled.
By not obtaining a search warrant before entering the apartment where they encountered 28-year-old Michael Duncklee, his rights were violated, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Maquez said on March 31.
In May 2014, police went to a midtown apartment, after an employee said two people who had recently been evicted had returned.
When Officers Robert Soeder and Allan Meyer entered the apartment, Duncklee charged towards them with a hockey stick raised over his head, Pima County Deputy Attorney, Kellie Johson, said in August 2014 report.
The County Attorney’s Office declined to file charges against the officers, ruling that the shooting was justified.
Duncklee’s mother, Irma Woodward, filed a wrongful-death suit against the city of Tucson and the two Tucson police officers who shot and killed her son in January of 2015, court documents show.
That March, the case was moved to the U.S. District Court of Arizona.
Because the apartment employee didn’t want to be part of the investigation, and it was unclear if she had the legal authority of a landlord, there was no legal right for them to enter the apartment.
“It is clear that Officers Meyer and Soeder’s entry into the apartment violated Mr. Duncklee’s right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizure,” the court ruling said.
The case will proceed in federal court, and both parties will file a joint motion in the near future, said Woodward’s attorney, Matthew Schmidt.
“Judge Marquez has ruled as a matter of law that Officers Meyer and Soeder violated Michael’s constitutional rights (relating to) illegal search and seizure,” he said.
If a jury trial is necessary, the jury would decide how much money Woodward would be awarded, Schmidt said.