Arguments heard in lawsuit appeal for fmr. Ky. deputy paralyzed by friendly fire

A Scott County deputy filed a lawsuit against the City of Georgetown and two police officers for negligence after he was hit by friendly fire and paralyzed.
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 4:55 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - A Scott County deputy filed a lawsuit against the City of Georgetown and two police officers for negligence after he was hit by friendly fire and paralyzed.

In 2021, a judge all but ended the lawsuit. Morales appealed, and oral arguments were heard in Frankfort on Thursday.

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In September 2018, former Scott County sheriff’s deputy Jaime Morales was hit by friendly fire while helping U.S marshals make an arrest, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

Morales filed a civil lawsuit against the City of Georgetown and former Georgetown police officer Joseph Enricco and Lt. James Wagoner.

In 2021, a judge ruled that Georgetown and the two officers acted in good faith, that they have qualified immunity and that the law protects them.

“If you look just to his opinion and impose the law as he believes it to be, the consequence is to make the job of officers and the public more dangerous if officers do not have the ministerial duty to their fellow officers to only shoot without endangering them,” said Morlaes’ attorney, Tom Miller.

Miller filed an appeal, and oral arguments were heard Thursday.

An investigation conducted by Kentucky State Police concluded morales was shot by another person in law enforcement, but investigators did not identify who pulled the trigger.

However, morales’ suit names Enricco as the officer who fired the shot due to his position.

Jeffrey Mando is Jospeh Enricco’s attorney. He says adopting the argument of morales’ attorney would undermine the purpose for which qualified official immunity was adopted.

“That doctrine, that defense is designed for this very specific type of case,” said Mando. “It’s designed to protect a police officer from damages liability for good faith judgment calls made in legally uncertain environments. It’s made to protect them from bad guesses in gray areas.”

Judge Glenn Acree noted that this case is not an easy one, that the decision will have implications for the future and that the court will do its best to get it right.