The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided Monday not to rehear a complaint from Emma Jones, who claims the town of East Haven is liable for that fact that its cops shot and killed her son.
But the case may not be over. Attorney David Rosen and Jones (pictured), his client, will decide in the next 90 days whether or not to file a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to consider the case of Emma Jones v. Town of East Haven.
The case has stems from a 1997 incident in which then East Haven cop Officer Robert Flodquist chased a car drive by Jones’ son, 21-year-old Malik Jones, from East Haven into New Haven, ran up to Malik’s car, shattered the window, then shot Malik several times at close range, killing him. Malik, a New Havener, was unarmed.
Flodquist had tried to pull Malik over in East Haven, and Malik had fled. After the shooting, Officer Flodquist said that he shot Malik because Malik gave him a “Go to Hell” look. And the car Malik was inside may have been slowly rolling backwards at the time of the shooting, so Flodquist thought his life was at risk as he ran toward it, he later claimed.
The incident became a cause celebre among civil-rights activists, leading to the creation of a statewide racial profiling law, and sparking years of painful urban-suburban soul-searching and contention.
Emma Jones (pictured) sued the town of East Haven, winning an initial judgement of $2.5 million. That decision was reversed on a technicality. A second jury awarded her $900,000 in 2010.
The town of East Haven appealed the decision. A panel of three federal judges sided with East Haven in an appellate decision last August. They ruled that Jones had not shown that the town’s police department had a practice of prejudicial police conduct.
Jones filed to ask for a rehearing. That request was denied on Monday.
“I think it’s a great victory for the town of East Haven,” said Hugh Keefe, the town’s attorney in the case. “That, for all practical purposes, ends this litigation.”
Maybe not, said attorney Rosen. He said he and Jones will decide in the next 90 days whether or not to try to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We have to still make a final decision about that,” he said. “It’s certainly something that we have had in mind all along.”
Jones announced last August that she would pursue a Supreme Court hearing.
“I didn’t hear a whisper of despair or discouragement” from her, Rosen said after speaking with Jones on Monday. “I think she feels she’s been doing what she should be doing all these years and she’s been making every effort she can to see that justice is done. And I think she’s at peace with the decisions that she’s been making.”
Rosen said it sometimes gets lost in the talk of the Malik Jones case that “no one has question the jury’s verdict that shooting Malik Jones was illegal and unconstitutional.” That was decided in 2003 “and that decision remain unquestioned.”
The only question that remains is whether East Haven is liable, he said.
It’s a question that may be considered next by the U.S. Supreme Court.