BILLINGS- A federal judge has ruled that the wrongful death suit filed against the city of Billings by the family of an unarmed man killed by Billings police in 2014 can move forward to trial.
U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy ruled Thursday that certain claims in the civil case filed by the family of Richard Ramirez will be decided by a jury. A trial date is set for 9 a.m. March 4.
Attorney for the Ramirez family argued in court documents that the shooting was an excessive use of force in violation of his constitutional rights. Their suit names the city, Police Chief Rich St. John and Officer Grant Morrison, who pulled the trigger.
Morrison, St. John and the city had asked the judge to dismiss all claims.
Ramirez was shot and killed by Morrison on April 14, 2014. He was a passenger in a vehicle pulled over by Morrison and ignored seven commands by the officer to raise his hands. Police later found a syringe and methamphetamine on the floor of Ramirez’s seat, and toxicology reports indicated he had meth in his system when he died.
In January 2015, a coroner’s inquest jury ruled the homicide was a noncriminal, justifiable homicide, and Morrison returned to duty.