Claim: Dothan won't turn over documents in officer-involved shooting case

Dothan police officers protect scene of deadly shooting at animal shelter in this December, 2014 photo.
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WTVY) -- Nearly three years after a Dothan police officer fatally shot a man the attorney for his estate alleges the city refuses to turn over documents pertinent to the case.

Attorney Henry Sherrod wants personnel and training records of Officer Adrian Woodruff---who shot Robert Lawrence-- and then Dothan Police Chief Greg Benton. Both have since retired.

Lawrence died from a gunshot wound he suffered in December, 2014 during a dispute with Woodruff, who was assigned to the city’s animal shelter. He was attempting drop off an animal and refused to provide identification, as required.

Though details of the shooting were never released, a civil lawsuit filed by Lawrence’s estate indicates he attempted to take a stun gun from Woodruff during the altercation and she shot him. The city claims it was in self-defense.

The State Bureau of Investigation conducted a probe and the findings were presented to a Houston County Grand Jury that cleared Woodruff of wrongdoing. The panel examined evidence including video that has not been made public.

The lawsuit, alleging the officer’s action were unwarranted, was subsequently filed and documents requested several months ago. Sherrod alleges the city has refused to turn over all requested records and is asking a federal judge to order them to be surrendered.

“Personnel and training records for Woodruff and Benton are highly relevant to plaintiff’s claims. The personnel files contain information on the officer’s job performance, ethics, interpersonal relationships, decision-making abilities, work and safety habits, promotions, training records, discipline, instances of misconduct, interviews, employee orientation, and employment applications. These types of documents may reveal the defendant officers’ patterns of behavior, as well as the City’s response to such behavior, and these documents are not available from alternative sources,” a motion filed in federal court states.

Court documents show Dothan City Attorney Len White considers the request for records too broad.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and a jury trial was requested. A trial date has not been set.

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