Lawsuit claims wrongful death in Mercer County police shooting

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The former girlfriend of a man whom police fatally shot in Mercer County in 2011 filed a lawsuit today accusing two unidentified officers and their department with wrongful death and violations of constitutional rights.

Donteau Napier was 27 when, according to the complaint, police got a call about a "27-year-old male with a history of mental problems" causing problems at the Ira B. Levigne Manor public housing complex in Farrell.

At least two officers responded from the from the Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Department, which serves Farrell and several nearby towns.

Napier was getting out of a vehicle, unarmed, "clearly emotionally disturbed, but not a threat," according to the complaint. The officers shot him from "less than 60 feet away," the complaint claimed.

The plaintiff is Taliea Robinson, the administrator of Napier's estate. The defendants are the department and the two officers.

Police Chief Riley Smoot Jr. said he had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment.

The Sharon Herald has reported that Mercer County District Attorney Robert G. Kochems found that the shooting was justified. The newspaper reported that Ms. Robinson made the 911 call that led to the encounter and told law enforcement that her fiance had a gun.

The civil complaint alleged that police violated Napier's rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and excessive force, and caused his wrongful death. It demanded payment for Napier's pain and suffering and economic damages, plus punitive damages.

Attorney Michael Pribanic representing Napier, could not be immediately reached.


Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord. First Published November 25, 2013 5:22 PM


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