Lawsuit: Officer who killed fleeing Bixby teen last summer had been fired previously for being ‘unfit for duty’

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Attorney Kevin Adams speaks to reporters during a press conference about the officer-involved shooting death of 16-year-old Logan Simpson on July 26, 2018. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier
The Bixby police officer who shot and killed a fleeing teenager in a vehicle last summer had been fired from his previous law enforcement job because “he was unfit for duty” and “repeatedly violated departmental policy,” an amended lawsuit filed Thursday claims.

Officer Jon Little shot and killed 16-year-old Logan Simpson on July 22, 2018, in Bixby during a brief pursuit in which Little apparently mistakenly believed Simpson was driving a stolen vehicle. However, Simpson had actually driven away from his family’s home in the family SUV after another teenager had fought Simpson’s older brother with an axe, the lawsuit states.

Simpson’s family has said the teen was attacked by a person named Deante Strickland, who then attacked Simpson’s older brother with an axe. Police were called, but before they arrived Simpson drove away from the home in the family vehicle.

Unsure who took the vehicle, Simpson’s family asked Strickland, who they said replied “My homeboy.” The family then told police the vehicle had been stolen. The lawsuit states the family discovered it was Simpson who had taken the vehicle and told officers at the scene who “did nothing to cancel the stolen vehicle call that went out over the radio.”

Little later cornered Simpson in the vehicle at the end of a dead-end street. Dash camera video shows Simpson driving his vehicle in the direction of Little, who had exited his squad car. The officer fired multiple shots at the SUV, several of which struck Simpson, who later died.

The shooting was eventually ruled justified by Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler.

The amended lawsuit filed Thursday states that Little had “repeatedly” violated “departmental policy with regard to pursuits, treatment of suspects who are minors, and felony stops, and was caught lying on multiple occasions.” Kevin Adams, the attorney for the Simpson family, said that Little had been fired from the Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office. Little had also worked previously as a detention officer and then as a deputy for the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, but a records request filed last year by The Frontier did not return any disciplinary documents. Little left TCSO in 2009, records show.

Logan Simpson. Courtesy.

Court filings from earlier this month indicate that the city of Bixby replied to a subpoena from the attorney representing Simpson’s family with CDs containing “employment records” and “disciplinary records” for Little.

A portion of the response to the subpoena also mentions “Officer Little Other Shootings,” though no mention of other officer-involved shootings by Little are included in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that while working for the Bixby Police Department, Little had previously claimed to have been conducting traffic stops funded by a federal grant on two dates in December 2014 when he had instead been “sitting in the police department.”

Bixby and Police Chief Ike Shirley did not fire or suspend Little for the alleged lying, the lawsuit states, instead telling him he could not work those federally-funded enforcement hours until “further notice.”

Little was also reprimanded in 2016 for following too closely during a pursuit “and causing an accident,” according to the lawsuit, but was not disciplined by the “accident review board.”

Little was later promoted to field training officer, the lawsuit states, giving him “responsibility and authority to teach new officers how to perform their duties as a Bixby police officer.”

The lawsuit, which was amended this week to add the information about Little, also added Shirley as a defendant in the suit.

“The actions of, and/or the failures to act by, the City and Defendant Shirley culminated in Bixby police officer, Defendant Little, killing an unarmed sixteen year old, Logan Simpson, in violation of Logan’s Constitutional right to be free from the use of excessive force by police officers acting under color of law,” it states.

No charges to be filed against officer in connection with fatal on-duty shooting of Bixby teenager

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Dylan Goforth

Editor in Chief/Staff Writer

Dylan has two kids, three dogs, and no time to himself. He's fueled by QuikTrip and Twitter. Contact: dylan@readfrontier.com or 918-931-9405.
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