PROVIDENCE - The mother of a boy whose father was fatally shot by a Pawtucket police officer has sued the city, alleging that officers were too aggressive and not trained to deal with mentally ill suspects.
Jason Swift was killed in February after a struggle with police in his apartment.
Lawyers for Noelle Farry, the mother of Swift's child, filed a federal lawsuit last week seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages after notifying the city in July of their plans to sue.
The Feb. 12 confrontation started after Swift's mother, Betty, called 911 to report that her son was "out of his mind," according to the nine-page complaint.
Police who arrived at Swift's apartment found him brandishing a sheathed sword, which he dropped on the officers' command, the lawsuit says. The complaint says Swift tried to cooperate by putting his hands against a fence, but then panicked and struggled when police tried to restrain him.
He then ran inside the apartment, where police found him unarmed, naked, and kneeling on the floor. Another scuffle broke out when police again tried to restrain him, and an officer shot him twice in the chest and abdomen when he tried to get up from the floor, according to the lawsuit.
Marc DeSisto, a lawyer for the city, declined to comment yesterday.
A Providence County grand jury that investigated the shooting cleared Wallace Martin, the officer who pulled the trigger.
Martin told investigators that Swift ignored orders to stay on the floor and instead lunged at him, making the officer afraid he was trying to grab his gun or go for his throat.
Martin said he fired one round, and then a second after Swift lunged at him again.
The suit names as defendants the city's finance director, four police officers who went to the scene, and 10 unidentified officers or city employees accused of failing to provide proper training for dealing with mentally ill suspects.