SALT LAKE CITY â Molly Farrand lost her husband in a police shooting. Now she has lost her fight for a life insurance payout.
American General Life Insurance Co. denied Molly Farrandâs claim on her husband Vincent Farrandâs $500,000 life insurance policy and she sued in U.S. District Court, arguing the shooting constituted an accidental death.
The womanâs suit contended her husband, 38, had set down a pistol and was turning to walk through a gate when Centerville police officer Jason Read fired five times, killing him.
Intoxicated and suicidal, Farrand met police in front of his home April 13, 2014.
Molly Farrand had called police because her husband had driven away, armed, apparently to confront a man who had made sexual advances to her. But Farrand returned home before police arrived.
American Generalâs Aug. 18, 2014, letter to Molly Farrand said it was denying the life insurance claim because Vincent Farrand âwas suicidal and wanted âsuicide by cop.ââ The letter also quoted the police investigation report that said an autopsy found the man had a 0.22 blood alcohol content.
In a deposition, Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said he decided not to file charges against Read because of the Utah Office of the Medical Examinerâs conclusion that although Farrand was shot through the back, his arm was being lifted toward Read.
Rawlings added, â… my office never found that Officer Readâs shooting of Vincent Farrand was âjustifiedâ from a civil perspective. … Whether an officerâs use of force is âjustifiedâ statutorily is the quintessential determination for a jury to make.â
But U.S. District Judge Dee Benson has ruled the shooting cannot be considered accidental because Vincent Farrand disobeyed nine commands to put down the gun and dared a police officer three times to âdo it.â
It is clear from the police audio record of the shooting that Read also warned Farrand, âDonât put your finger on that trigger, man. Donât put your finger on that trigger,â Benson said in his Jan. 22 ruling dismissing the suit.
âWhy would Read repeat these warnings over and over if Farrand had already put the gun down on the ground earlier,â the judge wrote.
Another officer testified Farrand was still holding the gun after the shooting when Read kicked it out of his hand.
âRead sensibly believed that if Farrand was able to find full cover behind the fence, the officerâs life was in even greater jeopardy,â Benson said.
âThe average person in Farrandâs position would have anticipated being shot while attempting to flee that situation with a weapon,â Benson said.
Being shot and killed âwas clearly the natural and probable consequence of recklessly disregarding nine different warnings from a police officer to âdrop the gun,â especially after brazenly playing with the trigger, repeatedly responding by provoking the officer with the words âdo it,â and then attempting to escape into the backyard with the weapon still in hand,â the judge said.
Benson further ruled the insurance claim was justifiably denied under an exclusion that prohibited coverage if the death resulted in âillegal activity.â
Because Farrand illegally interfered with a peace officer in violation of state law, and that conduct âclearly resulted at least in part in his death,â American General properly denied the claim, Benson said.
David Gammill, an attorney representing Molly Farrand, did not immediately respond to a message asking whether the suitâs dismissal will be appealed.
She earlier sued Centerville City for wrongful death. In a settlement of that suit, the city paid Farrand $127,000 in damages. Although it settled, the city did not admit fault.