A Cook County judge declared a mistrial Wednesday in a $13 million police shooting lawsuit after a juror failed to follow the judge’s directions and did internet research on a legal phrase at the center of the case.
Pamela Anderson sued the city of Chicago and accused Officer Christopher Raimey of “willful and wanton” conduct for fatally shooting her son, James Anderson, in 2015 after she called 911 seeking help to get him to a hospital when he was experiencing a mental health crisis. A juror looked up the phrase “willful and wanton,” leading to the mistrial during deliberations following a two week trial.
Antonio Romanucci, a lawyer for the Anderson family, said he was disappointed.
“The evidence was sufficient for them to decide on the merits of the case, and we look forward to retrying the case and providing the Anderson family the justice that once again has been delayed,” Romanucci said.
Lawyers for Pamela Anderson told jurors that when Raimey arrived on scene, he already knew from dispatchers that James Anderson had a mental illness and had a knife. They say he entered the home and within less than a minute shot James Anderson in front of his mother.
Anderson’s lawyers argued that Raimey set aside police rules and training, and by doing so, endangered other officers and James Anderson. They say Raimey could have called a sergeant or officers specially trained to respond to people in mental health crisis. They also argued that he could have approached the situation more slowly and kept more distance between himself and Anderson.
Lawyers for the city argued that Raimey was following training and attempting to properly assess the situation when he knocked on Anderson’s door. They say Anderson invited him in but when Raimey opened the door Anderson charged at him with two box cutters, pinning him near a back door and forcing him to shoot.
Pamela Anderson’s lawyers argued her son never charged at Raimey, and they cited physical evidence that showed James Anderson was shot from the side and couldn’t have been moving toward the officer.
Lawyers for the city of Chicago countered that Pamela Anderson’s testimony is inconsistent and that if she’d been standing where she said she was standing, she would have been shot. Other officers on scene place her in a separate room at the time of the shooting.
A spokesperson for the city’s law department declined to comment.
Shannon Heffernan is a criminal justice reporter for WBEZ. Follow her at @shannon_h.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the day of the mistrial. It was declared a mistrial on Wednesday.