The Family of David Hartman, the First Man Shot to Death by Highland Park Police, is Suing for $1 Million

DavidHartman.jpg
Collin County Sheriff's Office
David Hartman
David Hartman's death at the hands of Highland Park police back in June was weird.

For starters, there was the shooting itself. The 32-year-old had already been searched and was handcuffed in the back of the squad car when police say he managed to pull out a handgun and shoot out one of the rear windows. Officers returned fire as he tried to escape through the opening. It was the first fatal officer-involved shooting in the town's history.

Odd, too, was the sequence of events that preceded his entry into the squad car. It was early evening, about 6:30 p.m., when Highland Park police received a call from a woman complaining that a man on a motorcycle was following her. By the time they found the motorcycle, it was parked at a shoe store next to SMU, where Hartman was reportedly acting strangely. The cops tried to question him as he returned to the motorcycle, but he struggled and tried to flee.

See also: Highland Park Police Shooting a Weird One. Weird Ones Need Investigation.

Only later did police realize that the motorcycle was stolen and that Hartman, who had a couple of drug convictions and one for evading arrest, had an outstanding warrant.

The intervening months have done nothing to make the shooting any less weird. Perhaps the investigation, which was turned over to the Dallas County Sheriff's Office and which we've requested a copy of, will help with that. (Update on August 30: Highland Park police spokesman Lance Koppa says the sheriff's office has not yet completed its investigation and declined to comment). Until then, we have the allegations contained in a wrongful death lawsuit to add another wrinkle.

The suit, filed in federal court on Thursday by several of Hartman's family members, says that officers shot him as he started to run away, twice in the back, once in the leg. As he lay face-down on the ground, they allege that one of the officers fired another round, maybe more, into his body.

The family argues that the officers overreacted to the threat posed by Hartman, who "had no plans to do anything other than flee with a firearm." In doing so, they violated his constitutional and civil rights. They're demanding at least $1 million in damages.

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32 comments
whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

The family of the people who he stole the bike from should turn around and sue his family for $1million

MattL11
MattL11

This just feels like one of those cases where everybody was wrong.  

Steven Doyle
Steven Doyle

I will represent him posthumously at not cost

David Bennett
David Bennett

And with warrants out for him. Shots fired, flees with firearm, cops did the right thing. He should've thought that one out first lol

bob12345
bob12345

Everyone is commenting on he trys to flee with a gun. The original article said he fired the gun at the cops. Sometimes the family's attorney wants to forget that part. Seems like the case might not get as much sympathy if you mention that a couple of bullets in that gun were sent in the cops direction. Who cares they are just cops. They should have found it when they searched him. they didn't so they deserve to die. And no matter what they should never under any circumstances be allowed to defend themselves. Damn pigs.

Anonymous
Anonymous

While I feel for his family, I think the police acted appropriately.  This is the first fatal shooting in the town's history, so I don't think they are "trigger happy".  Let's have a little trust in our police.  They resort to lethal measures when there is a legitimate threat.  The guy stole a motorcycle, had drug arrests, evaded arrest and tried to flee…not exactly a model citizen.  Sounds to me like the family was preyed upon by an opportunist (aka lawyer) looking to get some publicity and make a buck.  I hope the judge tosses this case out the window and refuses to waste our tax dollars on frivolous litigation.

greasybritt
greasybritt

i think the biggest snafu is that they actually had him searched, cuffed, and stuffed before he ever got the gun out.  how the hell do you get a gun out with your hands cuffed behind your back in the back seat of a squad car?   how do you miss a piece when you patting someone down?   how did the woman who reported him know the bike was stolen?   regardless of where you stand politically, if you can't see the that HPD fucked up here, you are blind.   his family should have a case against them.


Adam Medders
Adam Medders

i don't think i'll lose any sleep over this one.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

This is what happens when you have a giant police department for a tiny town and they don't have any real crime. Well this and frivolous traffic tickets.

Why the hell are cops even following a guy because some woman said he was following her on a motorcycle?

Joe Bannon
Joe Bannon

They'll probably win, but I would have gone for a higher amount.

Wynona Morales
Wynona Morales

Shannon he took the gun from the officer while being handcuffed

Ron Schulz
Ron Schulz

Okay you get arrested shoot out a window try to escape and the cops shoot you. Not a big shock. Oh while riding a stolen motorcycle in a parking lot full of people.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

"had no plans to do anything other than flee with a firearm"  ????

Shannon Adolph
Shannon Adolph

What I am wondering is if he was cuffed in the back of a squad car AFTER being searched, how did he get a gun? How do you miss a gun in a search? Sounds like HPPD screwed up and killed the only witness.

James_the_P3
James_the_P3

The greatest risk to the citizenry of Highland Park coming out of that kerfuffle was from their own police department.  In a crowded shopping center, across a crowded street from dozens of homes, the HPPD fired off a couple dozen rounds (only a few of which hit their intended target).  At least one round hit a vehicle, and fortunately the damage was limited to that.  But it's easy to see that bystanders could've been injured and killed in this instance, in which deadly force was plainly not necessary.

The guy was fleeing.  They could have followed.  That's what the cops normally do when you try to run from them.  And if he had drawn a gun, then shoot him.  But here, the HPPD fired through a crowded shopping center at a guy running away . . . and only managed to hit him three times.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

So even Highland Park has a big drug problem - THC. Trigger Happy Cops. All shots in the back tell the story of bravery. They obviously screwed up the arrest and gave him a gun, but needed to kill the witness.

lzippitydoo
lzippitydoo

oh absolutely - give the criminal's family some money? This story reported the family's comment that all he was doing was fleeing ---- with a gun! Civil rights, wronged??? Stolen motorcycle, stolen gun - sounds like the law officers stopped him from being an immediate and future danger! We should just be happy that we arent talking about the murder of an HP officer or citizen! Frivolous legal mumbo jumbo here!!

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@greasybritt The woman who called said 'a man was following her on a motorcycle'.  The police later discoverd the bike was stolen (when they call in the plates, things like this are known to crop up)  How could you read the article and not see that?

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@P1Gunter If a woman calls at night and says some stranger is following her, the police are supposed to respond.  One possible outcome if they don't is the rape and/or murder of the woman calling in.  They weren't following the man on the bike, they found him at a shoe store.  Probably saw a bike matching the description of the one in the call.  

Did anyone read this article?

HeavyT71
HeavyT71

@James_the_P3  the officers only fired 3 shots...not a couple of dozen...and it happened in the intersection of Mockingbird and Airline...still a busy intersection but NOT in a crowded shopping center

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@ozonelarryb Stolen bike, stolen gun, fleeing with stolen gun, already shot out windows in police vehicle.  Shooting him was the right action.  Yes, they totally screwed up the arrest, however.

greasybritt
greasybritt

@RTGolden1 @greasybritt  you missed my point.   there is no way that she knew the motorcycle was stolen before they responded to her call.   calling the cops because you might percieve that they are following you is not a valid reason for them to respond.  it's not against the law to drive somewhere someone else is driving.   sure, they found out the bike was stolen later...but it just highlights the point that the HP PD doesn't have anything better to do than to respond to paranoid residents.  if it had been me, those cops would've heard from my attorney.  I drive a motorcycle.  I go to highland park.  I sometimes am forced to follow someone longer than i might want to.

greasybritt
greasybritt

@RTGolden1 @greasybritt  ....and indeed that is sad.  i'm not familiar with the incident you reference, but i'm not surprised that DPD missed a call.  they are stretched thin.  I myself have had issues with them in that regard.  i truly feel for that lady and her family. i am friends with a veteran member of the DPD who works some of the roughest areas in town, and i know how much he values human life.  it's much higher than i do, actually.   i'm talking about the law...not what's right and wrong.  i've been screwed by law on more than one occasion and i'm a good guy.  my opinion is that if this guy had lived, he probably would've had a case against HPPD.  and since he's dead, his family probably does now.  it's a sad state of affairs, but often bad things happen to good people and vice  versa.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@greasybritt @RTGolden1 Here's my problem with not responding to the original call by the woman.  DPD failed to respond to a 911 call from a woman a while back.  End result: Dead woman.

greasybritt
greasybritt

@RTGolden1 @greasybritt well, from what i read it didn't seem like many were making much of a deal about the botched search.  that's on me because at the time i wrote my reply i didn't see much in the way of anything regarding that.  concerning actions and consequences, i agree, the guy is not a good fella.  he's a bad 'un.  i'm not arguing anything about that.   what i'm saying is just like he has consequences, so do the police.  if the orginal "stop" is determined to be unwarranted, or a case of "profiling" then anything that happened after is irrelevant and the guy walks.   my point is that if i had been stopped for "following" someone, i'd wouldn't let it slide.   get your ducks in a row before you decide to proceed with a search and seizure.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@greasybritt Yes that point has been addressed here, and extensively in the original story.  Everyone is in agreement that the Highland Park PD dropped the ball on the search.  That doesn't give someone a free pass to pull the missed firearm out and start shooting it.  Actions and consequences, my friend.

greasybritt
greasybritt

@DirtyP1 @greasybritt @RTGolden1 loaded question.   my wife has the sense to figure out if she's actually being followed before involving the police.   no where in the article does it say that she was even near the incident that inevitably went down.  in my mind, she just didn't like the way the guy looked, and that's not probable cause.  I guarantee she wouldn't like how look either.  the same thing could happen to me and i'd end up getting hassled at the smoothy factory.   it says, the cops eventually "found the motorcycle" .  my biggest problem with the whole story is how this highly trained and kick ass police force put a suspect into a squad car with a loaded gun.   that's the point no one is addressing.

DirtyP1
DirtyP1

@greasybritt @RTGolden1 If your wife or daughter is being followed and feels threatened, would you not want them to call the police?

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