Local News

Jury deliberates in civil trial over Clayton police shooting

Posted September 21, 2009 1:03 p.m. EDT
Updated September 22, 2009 3:50 p.m. EDT

— 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.