Hopkins trial could reach federal level


By Jesse Campbell - jcampbell@jeffersonpost.com



JEFFERSON-Several key players, who are listed as defendants in the Joshua “Hoppy” Hopkins and Dallas Shatley civil suit, have filed legal action aimed at having the case moved to the federal level.

In July, former sheriff James Williams along with Hopkins and former deputy Chris Roten filed the motion. The former lawmen are listed as defendants in a civil case brought by the Shatley family. Shatley was killed during an officer involved shooting in July 2015.

Essentially, the motion is asking that the entire case be “removed” from the Superior Court division and moved to the Federal Court division, local court officials confirmed Tuesday.

In this case, the proper division is the US District Court for the 4th Western District, which is located in Statesville.

A trial date has not yet been announced and there is no evidence that the notice of removal has been officially signed or filed, according to court records.

Background

Shatley’s wife, Della, and two daughters, Misty and Tiffany, are listed as the plaintiffs in the civil case. The Shatley family alleges that Hopkins and Roten violated Dallas’ Fourth Amendment and Constitutional rights. The deputies are also being sued under the common law for wrongful death. The suit alleges that both deputies used excessive and unreasonable deadly force in their handling of the series of events that ultimately culminated in Dallas’ death.

The Shatley lawsuit isn’t the first time Hopkins or the sheriff’s office have come under fire or have been forced to respond to a civil court for an officer involved shooting.

Previously, the county settled with the family of Walter Mark Houck, who was killed in a similar shooting in November 2012. Hopkins was listed as at least one of the shooters in that case.

Houck, 47, died Nov. 19, 2012, after being shot nine times by officers, according to an autopsy report issued by Wake Forest University’s Department of Pathology, after they responded to a report of a shooting at 543 Gaither Poe Road shortly after 11 p.m.

Each of the officers involved, including Hopkins, were exonerated in that shooting by District Attorney Tom Horner. That suit was settled for $312,000.

Following the Houck shooting, the suit alleges the sheriff of Ashe County knew or should’ve known that Hopkins posed an unreasonable risk of injury or death to the citizens of Ashe County yet continued to employ him as a deputy and continued to allow Hopkins to respond to calls where such injury or death was foreseeable and even inevitable.

The suit is seeking combined compensatory damages in the sum of an excess of $100,000. They are seeking to recover $50,000 in punitive damages.

Hopkins criminal trial is scheduled to begin in 2018.

Reach Jesse Campbell at (336) 846-7164.

By Jesse Campbell

jcampbell@jeffersonpost.com

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