Lawsuit filed in man’s death
November 23, 2010
A lawsuit was filed in federal court on behalf of a man who was shot and killed last year by a South Jordan police officer.
Wade Russell Pennington, who spent portions of his life living in the South Summit area, was 41 years old when he died in May 2009. Pennington was slain after leading officers on a chase through two cities. The pursuit ended when Pennington was cornered in a cul-de-sac in West Jordan.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Lohra Miller later absolved the officer who shot Pennington of any wrongdoing, said Pennington’s brother, Dennis Pennington.
"It’s unbelievable to think that the DA’s office has allowed this to all be covered up in a justified shooting," Pennington said. "We’re all upset We’re just so baffled by how this all took place."
Defendants named in the 38-page complaint and jury demand include Miller, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, South Jordan City, South Jordan Police Department, West Jordan and the West Jordan Police Department. Another defendant in the case is Jared Nichols, the officer who shot Pennington, Dennis Pennington said.
The plaintiffs, Garry and Judy Pennington, filed the civil lawsuit on behalf of their son, Wade Pennington. The lawsuit accuses law enforcement officials of violating Pennington’s constitutional rights to due process and being secure against unreasonable seizure.
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The complaint alleges police "utilized unreasonable and excessive force which resulted in injury and death to Pennington."
Family members claim South Jordan officials also failed to properly train, supervise and investigate their officers.
"If any training was given to police officers regarding civil rights of members of the public to be free from constitutional violations, defendants know that such training was reckless and grossly negligent and that further misconduct in that area was almost inevitable," the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit was filed July 28 in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City. The complaint seeks about $1 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
Police claim the night he died Pennington was spotted driving a sport utility vehicle near a South Jordan business park. Officers were trying to stop Pennington when the chase ensued.
Miller did not comment about the case when reached Monday. She referred calls to her attorney, Peter Stirba.
"The DA’s office conducted a routine investigation as required by protocol It was done in the manner that all these investigations are done," Stirba said in a telephone interview. "They determined there was not a violation of any criminal statute."
At the time of his death Wade Pennington was a roofer in Vernal who had an extensive criminal history.
His brother said his parents have owned a home in the Kamas area for about 15 years.