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Mother of man shot to death at Kroger files suit

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The mother of an Indianapolis man fatally shot in December by a Kroger manager during what police determined was an attempted robbery is suing the supermarket chain for wrongful death.

Toni Atkinson filed her lawsuit July 13 in federal court in Indianapolis on behalf of her son, Jeremi Atkinson, 26, who was shot at the Kroger store at 5025 W. 71st St. on Dec. 26.

The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office in early January ruled the shooting by Kroger manager Elijah “Levi” Elliott to be justified under Indiana law to prevent a forcible felony. Elliott, 24, resigned from Kroger about a month later.

The wrongful death suit charges that the Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. was negligent for failing to supervise its employees and enforce its safety policies, which prohibit employees from carrying firearms while on duty.

“As a direct and proximate result of Kroger’s negligence,” the suit says, “Atkinson is deceased and the plaintiff has suffered harm.”

The complaint acknowledges that an “altercation” occurred between Atkinson and a Kroger employees but makes no mention of the attempted robbery.

Police, who talked to witnesses and reviewed surveillance video, said Atkinson was shot after he forced an unarmed female security guard into the store’s office by putting an object in her back and placing her in a headlock. When Elliott responded to cries for help, Atkinson released the woman and charged at Elliott, who shot Atkinson.

Atkinson was wearing a mask and and a hoodie during the incident, but police did not say if was carrying a firearm. He was taken to Wishard Hospital in critical condition and died several hours later.

Kroger spokesman John Elliott said this week that the company was unaware of the lawsuit.

“Thus, our legal department has not had an opportunity to review the filing,” he said in an e-mailed statement. “Until we complete that internal review and possibly consult with additional legal counsel, which could be a lengthy process, we are not able to comment publicly on the suit.”

Atkinson was convicted in 2009 of armed robbery for holding up a Subway restaurant on North Keystone Avenue. He was sentenced to four years in prison and was let go on work release before a warrant was issued for his arrest in February 2011 for violating terms of his release, prosecutors said.

His mother is represented by Jon C. Abernathy of the Indianapolis law firm Goodin Abernathy LLP. Abernathy said he had no comment on the lawsuit.

Drew Miroff, a partner at Ice Miller LLP whose practice includes premises liability and risk management issues, said the case will be difficult to win.

“A violation of a company policy is not necessarily negligence,” he said. “They’re going to have to prove that there was a failure to supervise their employees by not enforcing the policy.”

 

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  • Policy
    Kroger isn't wrong for failiing to enforce their policy, they are wrong for having that policy in the first place. The violation of that policy prevented a serious, violent felony from taking place. It is tragic that the young man lost his life, but it was as a result of his own actions it attempting an armed robbery. He is the only one responsible for the events which transpired.

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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