The Fayette Citizen-News Page

Wednesday, June 27, 2001

PTC seeks dismissal of federal suit over 'illegal entry'


Attorneys representing Peachtree City and three police officers are asking a federal judge for summary judgment in a lawsuit against them which claims the officers illegally entered a residence and arrested three family members.

In various court papers filed recently, the city indicates that the claims of Kevin, Carolyn and Thomas O'Keefe aren't backed up with proper evidence. Attorneys for the O'Keefes, however, argue that there are a number of unsettled issues which require the case to go forward.

In the suit, the O'Keefes complain that three police officers illegally entered their home in August of 1998.

The officers claim they were entering to investigate an alleged domestic violence incident. Eventually, they arrested Carolyn and Kevin O'Keefe for obstruction of a police officer and maintaining a disorderly house; Thomas O'Keefe was arrested for simple battery. The officers have counter-sued the O'Keefes claiming the family made slanderous statements to the media when discussing the case.

The O'Keefes were originally convicted of the charges by a jury, although State Court Judge Fletcher Sams overturned the convictions in October 1999 and ruled the officers shouldn't have entered the O'Keefes' residence.

Carolyn O'Keefe claimed she was injured when she was arrested by officer Vicky Roman, and attorneys for the city have stipulated that her injuries of a black eye, back pain and shoulder pain "are casually related to her arrest."

Sgt. Wendell David Lamb was the first officer to enter the residence on his own to investigate the matter after witnesses outside the home indicated a fight, according to court documents. Roman and officer James B. Hughes entered the house later at Lamb's request for backup as Kevin O'Keefe became more agitated, the city claims.

The O'Keefes also claim the Peachtree City Police Department failed to properly train its officers to investigate domestic violence situations and in other matters, which has been vehemently denied by the city. In a deposition, Chief James V. Murray noted that to meet guidelines for national accreditation, the department must insure its officers are properly trained. Also, the state of Georgia requires officers to have 20 hours of training each year, he added.

Although city attorneys have asked for oral arguments on the motion for summary judgment, no date has been set for that hearing. The city is seeking a dismissal of all the O'Keefes' federal and state law claims filed in the original complaint with the court.

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