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One Claremont police officer dropped from wrongful death lawsuit

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/5/2019 10:05:49 PM
Modified: 12/6/2019 5:47:02 PM

CLAREMONT — A former Claremont police sergeant has been dropped from a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of 25-year-old Cody LaFont, who was shot by a patrol officer at his home in 2016.

The suit, filed by LaFont’s mother in U.S. District Court in September, originally argued that Claremont police officer Ian Kibbe and Sgt. Brent Wilmot should have known that LaFont was suffering from a mental disability at the time of the shooting, and that not treating him as a “qualified individual with a disability” violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

But on Nov. 13, the family filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss that accusation based on a technicality; a claim of an ADA violation cannot be made against an individual, the family’s lawyer Charles Douglas said.

“You have to go against the employer, not the individual,” he added.

The dismissal means that Wilmot, now the deputy police chief in Claremont, is no longer included in the lawsuit, while Kibbe, the patrol officer who responded to LaFont’s home and fired the gun, still faces one count of excessive force. The city of Claremont, which also was named a defendant in the suit, still faces the ADA violation claim as well as a count of disability discrimination by failure to properly train police.

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office initially said Kibbe was “legally justified” in the shooting but reopened the case last year after Kibbe was found to have falsified a police report in a later, unrelated criminal case. He pleaded guilty and served jail time for that incident.

This October, the Attorney General’s Office amended its finding in LaFont’s case, saying it no longer could deem the shooting “legally justified” but also could not disprove Kibbe’s self-defense claim.

LaFont’s family has argued that the shooting was unjustified and constituted excessive force. The lawsuit also said that Claremont officials haven’t properly trained officers to deal with people with a mental disability. The city has since filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed, and LaFont’s family has until Jan. 4 to respond to its motion.

Anna Merriman can be reached at 603-727-3216 or amerriman@vnews.com.

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