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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. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

  4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

  5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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