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Collar lawsuit filed in federal court

Published 3:00pm Saturday, July 26, 2014

Attorneys for the family of former Wetumpka High School student Gil Collar are taking their complaint to a higher court.

Mobile County Circuit Judge Robert Smith granted the request of the family’s attorneys to dismiss the suit in state court.

Ben Locklar, an attorney representing the Collar family, said a federal civil rights lawsuit was filed by the end of the day Friday in the Southern District of Alabama.

Locklar argues that University of South Alabama officer Trevis Austin did not act appropriately when Collar confronted him around 1:30 a.m. Oct. 6, 2012.

“After getting some tapes and video footage, we feel like we have a strong case under the Section 1983,” Locklar said. “We felt this was the best course of action to file under this statute.”

To prevail in a claim under Section 1983, the plaintiff must prove two critical points: a person subjected the plaintiff to conduct that occurred under color of state law.

And this conduct deprived the plaintiff of rights, privileges, or immunities guaranteed under federal law or the U.S. Constitution.

Collar came to the police station naked, yelling and beating on the station’s windows.

Smith shot Collar and then went back inside the police station.

Evidence shown to a Mobile County grand jury revealed that Collar was high on a designer drug produced in a lab.

Collars parents sued Austin, USA police chief Zeke Aull and the school.

Those allegations against the university and the chief were dismissed.

Smith’s attorney David Strassburg was seeking a summary judgement arguing that the officer was entitled to immunity because he was acting as a law enforcement officer at the time of the shooting.

In Strassburg’s brief filed in Mobile County Circuit Court, he called the filing in federal court a “redo.”

“Plaintiffs should not be able to avoid an unfavorable ruling when they failed to present any evidence to prove an exception to immunity by simply attempting to withdraw their claims and pursue them elsewhere,” he wrote.

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