Columbus, OH – Responding to the house of a woman requesting medical treatment, a Columbus police officer arrived at the front door and immediately shot her 4-year-old daughter when attempting to kill their dog. Fearing that a jury would award the family substantially more money, the Columbus City Council unanimously approved a $780,000 settlement with the innocent girl’s family on Monday.
After interviewing the victim of a hit-and-run incident on June 19, 2015, Officer Jonathan Thomas was returning to his patrol car when he heard a woman from another house calling for help. Andrea Ellis had cut her arm on a piece of broken glass, and her sister, Brandie Kelly, called 911 to request an ambulance. While Kelly was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher, she noticed Officer Thomas outside and called out to him for medical assistance.
Arriving at Ellis’ front door, Thomas suddenly pulled out his gun when he noticed the family dog approaching him. Although the pet did not attack Thomas, the officer abruptly opened fire and missed.
Instead of gunning down the dog, Thomas had mistakenly shot Ellis’ 4-year-old daughter, Ava Ellis, in the thigh.
While the paramedics began treating her gunshot wound, their daughter Ava reportedly asked, “Mommy, am I gonna die?”
“It hit her pretty much square in the middle of her leg and went through and broke the bone. She had to have a plate and screws to help pin the bone in place,” Ava’s father, Brad Ellis, told ABC6. “Emotionally, mentally she has nightmares. You could see it affects her now and again. I pray with her being young it will fade out.”
According to City Attorney Richard Pfeiffer Jr., Ava was hospitalized for nine days while accruing more than $250,000 in medical bills. Ava will also require future surgeries to remove a plate and screws in her right leg.
Neither Thomas nor the dog suffered any injuries.
Instead of firing Thomas or arresting him for negligently shooting an innocent child, police supervisors merely recommended a three-day suspension and retraining. Thomas is disputing the decision, claiming that he fired at the pet in self-defense even though the dog never attacked him.
Seeking $1.6 million in damages, Ava’s family agreed to settle their lawsuit on Monday for $780,000. Despite the fact that Thomas almost killed a 4-year-old girl, the taxpayers will once again be held financially responsible for another cop’s cowardly mistake.