Featured Stories

Family of Larry McKinney files lawsuit against Fairview police, city

The family of a Fairview man who was fatally shot by police in January filed a lawsuit for at least $3.5 million Wednesday, Sept. 12, against the Fairview Police Department, the city and the two involved police officers.

Larry M. McKinney, 37, was fatally shot Jan. 27 by Fairview Police Officer Mike Morton after McKinney allegedly attacked Officer Joe Kaiser with an 11-inch kitchen knife. Both officers were responding to a domestic disturbance call at the apartment of McKinney’s mother and uncle.

But McKinney’s family and the Fairview Police Department dispute the events that led to the shooting, the first officer-involved shooting in the department’s history.

The lawsuit, filed by McKinney’s mother, Sandra Kelley, and her family alleges wrongful death and unreasonable use of deadly force, as well as that civil and constitutional rights were violated.

It also argues against the Fairview Police Department’s statements on what happened; it also claims the officers “provided false and contrived testimony and statements to create the justifications for the shooting.”

The lawsuit says McKinney’s mother and his three children, who are 10, 9 and 4 years old, have been deprived of his love, companionship and support. It says McKinney’s killing “was unjustified and unreasonable and shocks the conscience.”

Michelle Burrows, an attorney representing the family, is seeking a judgment that covers lost income, funeral expenses, lost support for McKinney’s children and additional court costs.

Fairview Police Chief Ken Johnson was not available for comment by press time.

Steve Kraemer, the attorney representing the city, the police department and the officers, said he was still analyzing the complaint but noted “our position is that the officers acted entirely appropriately in how they conducted themselves.”

A grand jury in February found that both police officers, Michael Morton and Joe Kaiser, acted appropriately on Jan. 27 and cleared them of wrongdoing.

In his internal review of the shooting, Johnson wrote that Morton was justified in his use of deadly force and possibly saved three lives as a result.

The shooting

Both police and McKinney’s family dispute what happened Jan. 27-28, according to their grand jury testimony in February.

Major sources of contention include if McKinney attacked the officers with a kitchen knife or not, how the officers reacted when McKinney confronted them and where the officers were standing when McKinney was shot.

On Friday night, Jan. 27, McKinney, an alcoholic who had earlier been drinking with friends, arrived at his mother and uncle’s apartment at the Wood Creek Apartments in the 20300 block of Northeast Halsey Street. Kelley said she wanted her son to leave because he could no longer reside at the apartment and she was worried she would be evicted.

Kelley said she and McKinney argued and he pushed her onto her bed. She then called 9-1-1 around 11:45 p.m. and waited outside her apartment for the police. Her brother, Gerald Kelley, waited inside the apartment.

Fairview Police Officers Mike Morton and Joe Kaiser arrived at the apartment around 11:52 p.m. and met Kelley outside of her apartment. Kelley told the officers there were no weapons in the apartment, so they did not have their guns out.

The officers told the grand jury that they were walking up the narrow flight of stairs to Kelley’s second-floor apartment and were close to the landing when McKinney came out of the apartment with an 11.4-inch kitchen knife and threatened to kill them.

Kaiser, who was closest to McKinney, said the knife was “slightly to the right or above” his head and he was unable to get his gun in time.

Morton then shot McKinney at least three times.

But Kelley, who said she was standing behind the officers, told the grand jury the officers drew their weapons before they reached the stairs. She said the officers were still at the bottom of the stairwell when McKinney, holding a knife, stepped onto the apartment landing.

Kelley said the officers told McKinney to drop the knife before they started shooting a few seconds later, not giving McKinney enough time to react.

Kelley’s lawsuit says the evidence and eyewitness testimony do not support the testimony of the officers.