|Shane Aumic, in a family photo|
Former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin is being tried for murder this week in the racially charged death of George Floyd. That news is coming from Minneapolis, one of our major urban centers. But at the same time, events eerily similar to those surrounding the Floyd death are unfolding here in the Missouri Ozarks, not far from where we reside -- in a place that's about as rural as they come.
The decedent in Ava was a man named Shane Aumic. Best we can tell, all of the individuals connected to the incident were white. From a report at ky3.com, under the headline "Woman files lawsuit, claims husband died as Ava, Mo. officer knelt on his back":
A woman has filed lawsuit in federal court claiming that an officer from the Ava Police Department killed her husband last April by kneeling on him for several minutes while in custody.
Rachel Aumic, the wife of Shane Aumic. filed the lawsuit in federal court. It consists of three counts, two for violations of civil rights and one for a wrongful death.
According to the lawsuit, officer Kaleb Berkshire from the Ava Police Department initially responded to a call over a domestic disturbance around 6 a.m. on April 4, 2020, in the 500 block of Pennington Avenue.
Officer Berkshire found Aumic’s mother and stepfather outside. The officer entered the home after being informed that Aumic was intoxicated, holding a knife and “not in the right state of mind,” according to the lawsuit.
Per court documents, Aumic left the home, then made statements that somebody was trying to kill him. Officer Berkshire then instructed him to put down a knife several times. The officer eventually convinced Aumic to let go of the knife. Officer Berkshire removed a pistol from his possession, then handcuffed Aumic on the front porch, per court documents.
When medical assistance arrived on the scene, the situation did not improve much:
According to the lawsuit, Berkshire was lying on his stomach and attempted to search Aumic. . . . Aumic kept yelling while Berkshire said, “Stop! Stop, you understand? Stop now!” Then Aumic pleaded, “Please! Have Mercy!”
During that encounter, the lawsuit says Berkshire knelt down on Aumic and placed his knee in Aumick’s back for several minutes. The encounter was captured on body-cam footage time-stamped around 6:22 a.m. A medical crew arrived right around that time.
According to the lawsuit, Berkshire told Aumic “I’ll get off your back when you stop” while Aumic kept yelling. The lawsuit says, a CoxHealth paramedic held Aumic’s legs down while Berkshire was on his back. The lawsuit says, Berkshire threatened to use a taser near the end of the encounter. Aumic, who was grunting for several minutes, then became silent.
The paramedic asked Berkshire if Aumic was still conscious after several minutes. Berkshire stated, “Yeah... Well, I think he is.” The officer then yelled an expletive, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit says Berkshire and the paramedic began life-saving procedures around 6:30 a.m. until additional emergency medical staff arrived. A coroner pronounced Aumic deceased at 7:05 a.m.
Berkshire apparently was surprised that a subject could be in bad shape from having a cop kneel on his back They don't get newspapers or cable news in Ava?
The lawsuit accuses the Ava Police Department and other parties of negligence, particularly for not being properly trained for the encounter. Aumic’s wife is seeking compensatory damages and damages for aggravating circumstances against the defendants, punitive damages, and reasonable attorney’s fee and costs. She is being represented by an attorney from Kansas City.
Other defendants in the lawsuit are Douglas County, Cox Medical Centers, Douglas County Emergency Management and paramedic Steve Woods.
KY3 contacted the Ava Police Department on the lawsuit. We will update if the department releases a statement.
CoxHealth released the following statement Friday afternoon to KY3:
“We have not yet been served with a lawsuit, so we are in the very early stages of gathering information. However, we take this matter very seriously, and are conducting a thorough review of our records to learn more.”