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Jury deliberates in civil trial over Clayton police shooting

Posted September 21, 2009
Updated September 22, 2009

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— Jury deliberations began Monday morning in a federal trial involving a Clayton man suing three police officers who shot him more than five years ago.

Manuel Pena was inside his home on Feb. 2, 2004, when, court documents show, the officers fired 16 rounds of ammunition, striking Pena twice.

Pena claims that officers used excessive force against him and violated police department policy. He is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for physical and emotional injuries, as well as property damage, lost wages and medical expenses.

Jurors began deliberating at 10 a.m. and by day's end still had not reached a verdict. They were expected to reconvene Tuesday.

Officers Jeffrey Ray Porter, James Bennett Barbour and Jason Glenn Barnes had been looking for another man at the time of the shooting who had gotten away from authorities. When they knocked on Pena's door, according to a report, Pena was holding a rifle and did not respond to commands to drop the gun.

According to the lawsuit, Pena was armed with a .22-caliber rife because he thought a predator had frightened his chickens and dogs. Pena, a U.S. citizen who speaks little English, did not hear or understand the officers' instructions to put down the weapon, the lawsuit says.

Four months after the shooting, Johnston County's district attorney cleared the officers of any wrongdoing, determining that the use of deadly force was warranted and that the amount of gunfire was not excessive.

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  • Redneck Fun Sep 21, 2009

    I agree: When an armed man refuses demands to drop his gun, police officers are under no obligation whatsover to WAIT until the gunman POINTS it at them or allow the guy a "first shot".

    An old police saying says it's better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

    Why would you wait for someone to point the gun at you? If they point first, they could shoot first!! It only takes one shot to be unable to return home!! I'm not waiting for them to shoot me first!!! I understand the criticism of those saying 16 shots and only 2 hits, but we don't know how many each officer fired, nor do we know if he was moving or not. It is HARD to hit a moving target with a pistol!!

  • OpinionatedGuy Sep 21, 2009

    Well said SME2...

  • OpinionatedGuy Sep 21, 2009

    Still with ya Gork!!! Who said anything about him pointing his gun at a LEO???

  • SME2 Sep 21, 2009

    The guy was in his house with a legal rifle, these cops needed to show some restraint. They also showed how badly trained they were by letting them selves be in a situation where they are in a foreign environment where a prisoner that has escaped could potentially be. There is also this thing called the "right to bear arms" even for a non-english speaking American. Apparantly he did not get the call over his police scanner that someone was on the loose.

  • Centurian Sep 21, 2009

    When an armed man refuses demands to drop his gun, police officers are under no obligation whatsover to WAIT until the gunman POINTS it at them or allow the guy a "first shot".

    An old police saying says it's better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

  • melhanpow Sep 21, 2009

    As a police officer you don't have time to question if the suspect is going to put down a weapon or assault you. He was given orders and failed to comply. Even if someone doesn't understand what is being said, I personally think I would stop what I was doing because holding a gun in someones face is a universal language....u r making them mad.

  • Reason Sep 21, 2009

    I dont care if he speaks the language or not. three cops are at your door, in uniform...how can it be logical to stand there with a rifle in your hand????

    i love the people that comment that Pena didnt even fire a shot...Darn right he didnt. A good cop, who is going home to his family at the end of the night, is not going to let somebody get a shot off if they can help it. Nor should they be judged for not letting them do so. "ok sir, i see you have a rifle. im going to let you shoot me first but please try not to kill me on the first shot so that i can return fire."

    "Blessed are the peacemakers..."

  • injameswetrust2003 Sep 21, 2009

    jprime: official language or not, if he doesn't understand English that is too bad, he should have learned. Lawsuit should be dimissed.

  • jprime Sep 21, 2009

    "In one of the previous stories it was stated that Pena pointed his gun at the officers."

    If that was the case, his knowledge of English is irrelevant. Police are not to blame. As many people have said, doesnt matter what language you speak, or even if you are deaf, you know not to point a weapon at a police officer.

  • fatchanceimwrong Sep 21, 2009

    Maybe some of you know more about this story than is reported in this article, but it doesn't say that he pointed the gun at the officers, only that he wouldn't drop it. If he pointed it at them, then he deserved to get shot. If he was simply holding it and not pointing it at them, then the case for excessive force is stronger.

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