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Judge dismisses federal lawsuit against city

By Kati Walker
News Editor

The Federal Judge for the Northern District of Texas signed an order dismissing the case Espinoza v. City of Levelland, Thursday, Feb. 9.

The case was filed by Emilia Espinoza in January 2016 on behalf of her husband, Jose Espinoza, who suffered multiple gun shot wounds in January 2015.

The officers involved in the shooting were dismissed from the case on the basis of qualified immunity in August 2016.

The order filed by Judge Cummings on Thursday says: “The Court is of the opinion that the City’s Unopposed Motion for Leave to File Reply Brief should be granted and the Court considers the City’s Reply along with the other briefing…the Court is further of the opinion that the City’s Motion for Summary Judgment should be granted for the reasons state in the City’s thorough and well-drafted brief and reply brief…The Court is similarly of the opinion that Espinoza’s Cross Motion for Summary Judgment as to Liability should be denied for failure the comply with Local Rule 56 and for the additional reasons stated in the City’s thorough and well-drafted response brief. Accordingly, final judgment will be entered in favor of the Defendants.”

The judgment issued by Judge Cummings says “It is ordered, adjudged and decreed that all claims remaining in the above-styled and -numbered civil action are dismissed with prejudice. Costs of court are taxed against Plaintiff.”

The judgment was signed February 9, 2017.

Levelland Chief of Police Toney Cowan is pleased with how the case turned out and the way it was handled by all involved parties.

“I’m extremely happy about it and proud of our officers and our department and how they held up underneath this,” Cowan said. “From the start of this thing, it was handled in a professional manner, not only by the department and the city but also by the family. Everybody took this thing very seriously and handled it well; it was done the right way.”

The Plaintiff, Emilia Espinoza, has 30 days to file an appeal against the judgment.

“They have 30 days to appeal it so not really a lot to say until that passes,” said Rick Osburn, city manager. “Needless to say, we’re pleased and it’s not at all unexpected on our part, but it isn’t over until it’s over.”

The attorney for the City of Levelland did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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