‘Morally bankrupt’: Attorney blasts city push to get wrongful death suit in attack thrown out
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a new legal filing, the city is claiming it’s not responsible for the death of a woman who was brutally attacked on the steps of the Kapolei police station.
It’s asking a judge to throw out a wrongful death lawsuit, which was filed on the victim’s behalf.
The 18-page document claims the city didn’t have a duty to protect Linda Johnson as she sat on the steps of the Kapolei police station. The 48-year-old was allegedly beaten to death in a random attack by a man who doctors say is mentally ill. He is accused of beating Johnson just minutes after he had been released from jail.
“For these lawyers to come in and say under these circumstances that the city, the police department and the officers on duty, have no obligations to keep our client safe is to me morally bankrupt,” said lawyer Eric Seitz.
Seitz represents Linda Johnson’s estate.
He says on top of failing to protect the Johnson from the suspect, that police should have never allowed the alleged attacker to go free the night of the killing.
Court fillings show suspect Michael Armstrong had a history of exhibiting violent behavior.
The 35-year-old had bounced in and out of the State Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Kaneohe, for more than a decade and had just been arrested for assaulting a police officer the day before the attack.
“If a police officer acts negligently, the city is responsible for their negligence, if that negligence occurs in the course and scope of their duties,” said Seitz. “And in this case, there was negligence in bringing this woman out there 20-some miles. And then releasing her with no capacity to get back where she came from.”
Records show Johnson’s encounter with Armstrong happened after she was arrested for being on the beach in Waikiki after it closed.
At the time, the main station’s cell block in Honolulu was being remodeled and officers were booking suspects in Kapolei. Officials say she was released from jail not long before she was killed.
A witness who testified at Armstrong’s preliminary hearing said the attack went on at least 20 minutes.
He told the court when he couldn’t find an officer inside the station to help, he called 911.
“I am appalled that lawyers in this jurisdiction just simply treat those cases as if they’re representing clients ... rather than taking into consideration the interests of the public,” Seitz said.
HNN asked the city for an interview regarding its motion to dismiss the case.
A spokesperson said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
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