Court rules on suit against West Memphis officers

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A lawsuit brought against West Memphis, Ark., by relatives of two people who were fatally shot by the city's police officers during a two-state chase can continue, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit agreed with a lower court that five West Memphis officers involved in the July 2004 shootings of Donald Rickard and Kelly Allen are not immune from possible liability in the deaths.

Rickard fled a traffic stop for a broken taillight in West Memphis and was chased across a Mississippi River bridge to Memphis. After Rickard and a West Memphis officer crashed with each other on a Memphis street, officers managed to stop the car again and fatally shot both Rickard and Allen, his passenger.

Officer Vance Plumhoff fired three shots into the vehicle. Officer John Bryan Gardner fired 10 times at the vehicle as it was moving away from the officers. Officer John Tony Galtelli also fired two shots at the vehicle.

As the officers were shooting, Rickard lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a building.

Police have said they opened fire on the car after Rickard tried to run over them as he fled down the street after being cornered. Relatives of Rickard and Allen, both 44, have alleged excessive force.

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