|Appeals court sides with undercover narcotics officer exonerated in wrongful death suit|
|From Staff Reports|
Feb. 16, 2006 - A federal appeals court Wednesday sided with a local drug task force investigator who was exonerated one year ago of in a shooting death during a narcotics investigation in Titus County in 2002.
A federal jury panel in February of 2005 ruled in favor of the sergeant investigator for the Tactical Narcotics Team Task Force, now known as Red River Valley Drug Task Force, deciding he did not use unnecessary force against Jerry Lynn Anderson, nor did he violate Anderson's civil rights, during the November 2002 incident which resulted in Anderson's death.
The estate and family of Anderson, who filed the civil lawsuit, appealed the decision to the federal court in New Orleans. Arguments were heard Feb. 7, and a decision was posted Wednesday.
"They said that [the officer] acted reasonably, and that the trial court made no error," said Charles Frigerio, the San Antonio attorney representing the officer and co-defendants Hopkins County and Hopkins County Sheriff's Office, who were also absolved of any wrongdoing.
Frigerio said he was surprised at the speed with which the federal appeals court decided the case.
"It's unprecedented to get a decision that quickly," the attorney said.
In November 2002, the narcotics investigator and a Titus County officer were conducting surveillance of a methamphetamine lab at the Titus County residence of Jerry Lynn Anderson's brother-in-law. Frigerio said they observed Anderson enter and leave the property, engaging in what they believed to be narcotics trafficking. The officers, aware that Anderson had an outstanding warrant, followed him to another location, where he was later discovered with a package containing methamphetamine.
The attorney said evidence further showed that Anderson, when told to get out of his vehicle, accelerated toward the officer in an attempt to run over him with the truck. The investigator shot once through the windshield, fatally inuring Anderson.
An investigation by the Texas Rangers into the shooting concluded the officer acted correctly. When a grand jury was presented the case, they found no evidence of any wrongdoing and no-billed the officer.