Sunday, 21 April 2019

Judge denies life insurance payout in Centerville police shooting – Standard-Examiner

SALT LAKE CITY — 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 Farrand’s claim on her husband Vincent Farrand’s $500,000 life insurance policy and she sued in U.S. District Court, arguing the shooting constituted an accidental death.

The woman’s 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 General’s Aug. 18, 2014, letter to Molly Farrand said it was denying the life insurance claim because Vincent Farrand “was suicidal and wanted ‘suicide by cop.’” 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 Examiner’s conclusion that although Farrand was shot through the back, his arm was being lifted toward Read.

Rawlings added, “… my office never found that Officer Read’s shooting of Vincent Farrand was ‘justified’ from a civil perspective. … Whether an officer’s use of force is ‘justified’ statutorily is the quintessential determination for a jury to make.”

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 “do it.”

It is clear from the police audio record of the shooting that Read also warned Farrand, “Don’t put your finger on that trigger, man. Don’t put your finger on that trigger,” Benson said in his Jan. 22 ruling dismissing the suit.

“Why would Read repeat these warnings over and over if Farrand had already put the gun down on the ground earlier,” the judge wrote.

Another officer testified Farrand was still holding the gun after the shooting when Read kicked it out of his hand.

“Read sensibly believed that if Farrand was able to find full cover behind the fence, the officer’s life was in even greater jeopardy,” Benson said.

“The average person in Farrand’s position would have anticipated being shot while attempting to flee that situation with a weapon,” Benson said.

Being shot and killed “was clearly the natural and probable consequence of recklessly disregarding nine different warnings from a police officer to ‘drop the gun,’ especially after brazenly playing with the trigger, repeatedly responding by provoking the officer with the words ‘do it,’ and then attempting to escape into the backyard with the weapon still in hand,” the judge said.

Benson further ruled the insurance claim was justifiably denied under an exclusion that prohibited coverage if the death resulted in “illegal activity.”

Because Farrand illegally interfered with a peace officer in violation of state law, and that conduct “clearly resulted at least in part in his death,” 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 suit’s 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.


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