Three Hall County residents filed a lawsuit last month alleging excessive force by two Hall County Sheriff’s Office sergeants in an officer-involved shooting following a home invasion report in June.
Jennifer Harris claimed in the suit she was shot eight times when she was driving away from a Campbell Road home.
The two sergeants — Patrick Tolan and James Brown — answered the suit Tuesday.
Harris claimed she attempted to speed away from the police, believing them to be the robbers.
The sergeants denied this in their response, claiming Harris “sped her vehicle toward” them.
In the defendants’ response, they admit only that “Tolan took aim towards the vehicle and fired his county issued AR-15.”
The Sheriff’s Office declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation. Harris’ attorney Timothy McCalep also declined to comment, and the sergeants’ attorney Sun Choy did not return a request for comment.
Harris previously told The Times that she, her fiance Stewart McIntosh and family members were at her Campbell Road home around 11:30 p.m. June 15 when she heard a knock on the door. Two men with concealed faces entered with guns, taking her cellphone and $10, she said.
Seven people piled into an Audi passenger car, and Harris tried to get to a neighbor’s house when she was “blinded by bright flashlights and the barrel of a gun coming toward her,” according to the lawsuit
Harris claimed her son was hit two times, resulting in bullet fragments in his hand as well as scarring. The suit also claims Justin Castillo, 18, was hit in the back.
Harris said Castillo fired a gun, which McCalep claimed went into the air.
Hall County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Stephen Wilbanks previously told The Times Brown’s ballistic vest stopped a bullet to the torso, and another bullet grazed his head. He was treated at a hospital and released.
The suit is claiming the shooting was “excessive and unreasonable” and is seeking compensatory, general and punitive damages.
The sergeants claimed in their response that the use of force was “objectively reasonable and justified as a matter of law.”
“Plaintiffs’ injuries and damages, if any, were caused by their conduct, and such conduct supersedes any and all negligence or liability, if any on the part of the defendants,” according to the response.