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Father of man shot by Gainesville Police in 2019 files lawsuit against department, officers
Adam English.jpg
Adam English

The father of a 21-year-old Oakwood man fatally shot by Gainesville Police in September has filed a lawsuit against the department and two of its officers, according to court documents. 

Adam English was shot around 5 p.m. Sept. 20 near the Northeast Georgia Physicians Group surgical associates building on Jesse Jewell Parkway. 

His father, Joshua English, is the plaintiff in the suit filed Monday, June 15, against Gainesville Police and two of its officers, Jonathan Fowler and Jose Hernandez. 

Police received a 911 call around 4:33 p.m. Sept. 20 about a man with a gun. 

“Adam did not appear to be armed, and in any event, he was not holding a gun or other weapon in his hands when the officers encountered him,” according to the lawsuit. “Adam was not brandishing a gun or other weapon in a threatening manner when the officers encountered him.” 

The lawsuit claimed it is unknown whether English saw the officers approaching or understood any verbal commands to stop “because plaintiff has only been allowed to view a portion of a video of the incident.” The plaintiff does allege, however, that “Adam was shot in the back by two officers as he continued to walk away from the officers at a normal walking speed.” 

Gainesville Police officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The investigation regarding the officers’ use of force is still under review in Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh’s office. 

A Georgia Bureau of Investigation document said Fowler and Hernandez fired their weapons, though at least five officers were involved in the incident, according to the lawsuit. 

The lawsuit claims the officers are not entitled to any qualified immunity as “the law being clearly established in September 2019 that mere possession or suspected possession of a potentially lethal weapon which is not being used in a threatening manner is no justification for the use of deadly force.” 

The lawsuit alleges a violation of English’s Fourth Amendment rights, battery, negligence and a claim involving the Americans with Disabilities Act, as the plaintiff alleges the officers “were aware that Adam English suffered from some form of mental illness.” 

Under the ADA claim, the officers “failed to make reasonable accommodation for Adam English’s disability by deciding to escalate the encounter into a use of deadly force rather than to utilize de-escalation or other nonlethal strategies which should have been part of their training.” 

It is also alleged that Fowler “was involved in another excessive force incident just four months earlier in which he deliberately rammed the vehicle of a fleeing motorist in violation of departmental policy, for which he should have been terminated or reassigned but was instead given a short-term suspension and told to undergo additional training in judgmental use of force,” according to the lawsuit.  

The Times has also reached out to Gainesville Police to get information on this incident and what follow-up took place. 

The lawsuit is seeking damages, attorney’s fees and court costs following a jury trial.