KENNEWICK, Wash. - A Kennewick man was shot and killed by an officer after a traffic stop four years ago. A lawsuit filed by Christopher Villareal's family has been in the works since 2011.
In January, attorneys for Officer Lee Cooper, the City of Kennewick and the Kennewick Police Department asked the judge to dismiss the entire lawsuit.
On Wednesday the judge granted some of those motions to dismiss but left the heart of the case intact. That's according to the attorney representing Villareal's family. He said Cooper's violation of the fourth amendment and the lawsuit's claim that Cooper used excessive force is still moving forward. Villareal was shot nine times.
The judge denied the plaintiff's claim that the Police Department failed to properly train Cooper but did agree that both the City and the Police Department could still be held accountable.
"For sure, it's a win. It allows the case to go forward. It allows the facts to be presented to jury for them to decide whether or not officer Cooper did violate his constitutional rights," said attorney Dennis Hanson.
Despite the win there could be some roadblocks ahead. The judge denied a motion Wednesday that requested that Cooper be entitled to 'qualified immunity,' meaning he would be held personally liable.
The defense informed Hanson's office Thursday they will be appealing that denial the Ninth Circuit Court. Hanson said that typically leads to the courts issuing a 'stay' on proceedings, which would suspend the case for a time.