The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a decision dismissing a lawsuit from the family of a man killed by Cedar Rapids police in 2015.
Jonathan Gossman, 21, was shot 24 times and died after officers said he pulled a gun on them while trying to run from a traffic stop in October 2015. Gossman’s wife and mother sued several Cedar Rapids police officers in 2018 claiming excessive force and a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
A federal court dismissed the case in April 2019, finding the officer’s actions were justified. The three-judge panel upheld that decision in a December ruling.
Officer Bryson Garringer testified that he thought he saw a gun and heard a shot from Gossman before he and former CRPD Sergeant Lucas Jones, returned fire. The investigation determined while Gossman did have a loaded gun, it had not been fired. However, the court said even though Garringer was mistaken in believing Gossman had fired his gun, it did not change whether the officers were justified in shooting him.
The family also challenged the initial traffic stop, which began after Garringer and Officer Brandon Boesenberg saw multiple people buy a medication used to create meth and get into the same truck, while on a stakeout. The court noted while buying the medication itself wasn’t illegal, multiple purchases of the drug by multiple people at multiple pharmacies in a 20 minute span and the fact officers recognized several of the suspects from previous meth cases and observed “suspicious levels of activity in and around the truck” was enough to support reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
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