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Estate of Larsen v. Murr

February 10, 2006

THE ESTATE OF LYLE EUGENE LARSEN BY AND THROUGH FLORENCE STURDIVAN, PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RANDY MURR, GERALD WHITMAN, CHIEF OF POLICE OF THE CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER AND CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Marcia S. Krieger

OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (#34) AND DIRECTING THE CLERK OF COURT TO CLOSE THIS CASE

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (#34). Having considered the motion, the response (#41), the reply (#44), and the attachments thereto, the Court finds and concludes as follows.

I. Jurisdiction

The Court exercises subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

II. Issues Presented

The Court must determine whether Defendant Murr ("Officer Murr") is entitled to qualified immunity on the Plaintiff's ("the Estate") excessive force claim. The Court must then determine whether a trial is required on the Estate's remaining claims against the City and County of Denver and Chief Whitman.

III. Material Facts

This case arises from the tragic confrontation between a suicidal man and the police. Based upon the evidence submitted, which the Court construes most favorably to the Estate, the Court finds for purposes of this motion that:

1. Shortly after midnight on April 15, 2003, Lyle Larsen placed a 911 telephone call. During such call, he stated that he was going to kill someone or himself.

2. Officers Murr and Brase were dispatched to Mr. Larsen's residence.

3. After the officers arrived, they encountered Mr. Larsen in front of the residence.

4. Mr. Larsen was located on a landing at the base of the residence's porch. The landing was 6 steps above the sidewalk where the officers were standing. Next to the landing was a small yard elevated above the sidewalk. A retaining wall separated the yard from the sidewalk.

5. Mr. Larsen was holding a large knife which was more than 1 foot long.

6. Both officers ordered Mr. Larsen to drop the knife. He bent his knees and touched the tip of the knife to the ground, but then stood back up with the knife in his hand. He raised the knife above his shoulder, turned towards Officer Murr, pointed the knife at Officer Murr, then took a step toward Officer Murr. At that time, Mr. Larsen's eyes "got big the size of quarters."

7. Officer Murr testified at his deposition that he thought he was going to die and was in fear for his life.

8. At that point, Officer Murr said, "Drop the knife or I'll shoot." He then shot Mr. Larsen twice. Mr. Larsen died from his wounds.

9. When Officer Murr shot Mr. Larsen, they were several feet apart. The exact distance is unknown. Officer Murr believed they were 7 to 12 feet apart. However, they ...


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