Cleveland officer sues rookie partner for friendly fire
CLEVELAND (AP) — A Cleveland police officer claims another officer panicked and “blindly” shot her when they confronted a man standing in a boarding house bathroom with a gun, according to a federal lawsuit.
Jennifer Kilnapp’s lawsuit, filed last week, said her rookie partner in July 2020, Bailey Gannon, fled down the stairs after opening the second-floor bathroom door without a warning, where a man stood with a handgun at his side, pointed at the floor.
Gannon “blindly” fired a shot from over his head as he retreated and shot Kilnapp, who was standing near the top of the stairs, according to the lawsuit.
The bullet “ripped through her forearm before fragmenting in her bicep and chest, lodging near her spine,” according to the lawsuit. “She believed she was going to die.”
Two years later, Kilnapp has nerve damage that causes pain in her dominant arm and wrist, the lawsuit said. She has not been able to return to duty because of her injuries and PTSD, and, according to the lawsuit, it’s unclear when she will.
Cleveland.com first reported about the lawsuit last week.
The city of Cleveland and police Chief Dornat Drummond are also named as defendants. The lawsuit said the city and police department fail to adequately train officers, especially new officers, in use of force, interventions for people with mental health crises and de-escalation techniques.
The lawsuit claims Gannon falsely told investigators that Darryl Borden, 44, was holding a gun in both hands, pointing it toward the door when Gannon opened it without warning about the presence of police.
Borden was arrested that night and was later indicted on two counts of attempted murder of a police officer. An examination by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation showed that Borden fired two rounds into a wall opposite where he was standing but not at the officers, according to the lawsuit.
The attempted murder charges were dropped in June 2021, and Borden pleaded guilty to attempted felonious assault of a police officer.
Borden was sentenced to seven to 10 years in state prison. The following October, he received 57 months in federal prison for illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. A docket entry in the federal case said that sentence will be served consecutively to the state case.
Borden’s attorney in the state case did not return telephone messages seeking comment Monday.
Spokespeople for Cleveland did not return messages seeking comment.
Gannon hung up on a reporter Monday afternoon when asked to comment about the lawsuit. Court records don’t indicate whether he has an attorney.
While Gannon’s body camera footage recorded him saying he might have shot Kilnapp, police officials did not tell Kilnapp she was shot by Gannon until the spring of last year, according to the lawsuit.
Kilnapp was suspended in March 2021 for failing to turn on her body camera that night, while Gannon was not disciplined for “firing blindly over his head while running in the other direction, even though his actions flagrantly violated the most basic gun-safety rules,” according to the lawsuit.
Gannon, in an annual performance review three months after shooting Kilnapp, was described as “exceeding expectations” while a supervisor described the shooting as a “minor setback,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit noted that Gannon’s father is a Cleveland police sergeant.