NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) - A clerical error involving a jury pool resulted in a mistrial being declared in the civil lawsuit of a Norfolk police officer who shot and killed a mentally ill man who had a knife.
Officer Carl Seger shot Lawrence Faine in 2014. A judge had ordered Seger to arrest Faine and take him to a hospital.
Seger says Faine came at him with a knife. Prosecutors determined Seger had to shoot Faine to protect himself and others.
Faine's family claimed the officer acted recklessly when he forced his way into the apartment with a gun, and had sought $2.5 million in damages.
But prospective jurors had not been properly assigned to the trial on Tuesday morning, which resulted in the judge declaring a mistrial.
"There's a statute that says the clerk needs to send a jury panel to both sides [prosecution and defense] three days before the trial to give the attorneys a chance to investigate the jurors," said Faine family attorney Bob Haddad. He added, "The clerk sent us a list of 160 last week. They narrowed the panel down to 40 yesterday and sent that to us and today, [but] there was a different panel of 30, so we did not have the 30 people that were going to actually sit on the trial, in advance of the trial."
The judge said that it didn't matter who made the mistake, but the city has a right to full investigate the jurors before the start of the trial.
Faine's family can re-file the lawsuit, but because of how full the court docket is, a new trial may be a year away.
The Faine family declined to speak to 13News Now, but Haddad said this on their behalf:
“It’s very frustrating. Mr. Faine’s brother traveled a good distance to get here last night. They've been living with this for three years now, they were anxious to have seven independent Norfolk residents have the evidence and come up with a conclusion... so they are devastated right now."
Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk George E. Schaefer released this statement about the mistrial outcome:
I cannot speak to why Judge Doyle decided to declare a mistrial in the Faine v. Seger case. However, I can address your inquiry as to what transpired with the juror list:
On Friday, March 17th we responded to a request by counsel and provided a list of potential jurors who would be called for the trial date of Tuesday March 21st.
Late Monday, March 20th we received a subsequent request for a list of potential jurors. The Clerk responded indicating in the email that she was enclosing the correct list,but mistakenly attached a list of those jurors who had appeared for court on Monday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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