City of Columbia, SWAT members file response, counterclaim to complaint

Friday, October 15, 2010 | 2:07 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The city of Columbia and police officers involved in a February SWAT raid that made nationwide headlines denied any wrongdoing in their response to a lawsuit filed by the family whose home was raided.

Brittany and Jonathan Whitworth filed a complaint against the city and the officers, seeking compensation for the damages to their home and their dogs. There were two dogs in the home; one was killed and another injured in the raid. The complaint also sought compensation for physical injury to Jonathan Whitworth — from when a SWAT officer kicked him, he said — and emotional trauma to a 7-year-old child that was in the home at the time, among others.

In denying any wrongdoing, the city claimed that if Jonathan Whitworth was injured, it was his own fault. In a counterclaim, the city and officers also said their actions were in self-defense and Whitworth was "negligent."

Whitworth’s attorney, Milt Harper, was not surprised by the response of the city.

“This was a typical response and that’s why we have trials. A good defense attorney denies everything,” Harper said.

Harper also said that in the next 30 days both sides will begin to look into deposition dates in order to gather information from witnesses and those involved in the case.

Columbia Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine directed all questions about the lawsuit to risk manager Sarah Perry. Perry did not return phone messages.

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