1. Archive

Suit filed in police shooting of teen

The grandmother of a teen-ager who said he was shot after surrendering to a police officer last year is suing the city. The lawsuit, filed by Betty Johnson on behalf of Courtney Joyner, says Joyner was standing motionless with his back to the officer when the officer shot him. It accuses the police department of unnecessary force and false arrest.

Top police officials were not available Friday for comment. A police shooting review board led by then-Chief Sam Lynn ruled in November that the shooting was justified because the officer feared for his life.

According to police records, Joyner, 16 at the time, and a friend were stopped by police the night of Nov. 8, 1989, while the two were running near the intersection of Sixth Street and 25th Avenue S. Two officers were in the area looking for a car that had fled when the they attempted to stop it. The officers suspected the youths might be involved, the reports said.

While probationary Officer Dean Santos was searching Joyner, Joyner ran and pulled a shiny object from his pants pocket. When Santos caught up to him in a near-by yard next to Joyner's home, Santos told investigators, Joyner slashed at him with the object.

Santos ducked, pulled his gun and turned toward Joyner, telling him to drop the object, Santos said. He fired twice when Joyner raised his arm again, shooting Joyner once in the hip.

Joyner told investigators he ran after the officers stopped him because "I didn't want to be bothered by them." As he ran, he pulled an empty cellophane packet that had contained marijuana from his pocket and dropped it.

Joyner told investigators he stopped running and raised his arms when Santos pulled out his 9mm semiautomatic gun. When Joyner looked over his shoulder at Santos, the officer fired, he said. Joyner said he had nothing in his hand.

Police investigators found a table knife 12 feet from Santos' empty shell casings, police reports said. They also found a medicine bottle containing several pieces of crack cocaine near Joyner's feet.

Joyner underwent surgery at Bayfront Medical Center, but the surgeon was not able to remove the bullet. It perforated Joyner's small intestine twice and damaged the sciatic nerve, which could cause lingering mobility problems with his left foot, according to police reports.

The surgeon who operated on Joyner at Bayfront originally thought the bullet entered Joyner from behind. He later decided it entered the pelvic area from the side while Joyner was extending his leg.