$780,000 For Child Shot By Ohio Police Officer

| by Sarah Zimmerman
Columbus City HallColumbus City Hall

An Ohio couple were given $780,000 after filing a lawsuit against the officer who accidentally shot their 4-year-old daughter in the thigh in 2015.

Columbus Police Officer Jonathan Thomas was walking to his official patrol vehicle when a nearby woman yelled that somebody had cut herself. Thomas responded and entered the home in question, where he was approached by two dogs.

"As the door was open there were children [in the house] and as Thomas went to the house, a dog approached him and the dog ran away," City Attorney Richard C. Pfeiffer Jr. told The Columbus Dispatch. "A second dog came and the officer felt threatened by the dog and he took out his revolver and shot at the dog."

The bullet missed the dog and instead hit 4-year-old Ava Ellis in her right leg. The aggressive dog in question, a 40-pound bulldog-mix, was not hurt and nobody else was injured.

Andrea Ellis, the girl's mother, was taken to the hospital and was treated for her cut. It is unclear if the cut was accidental or self-inflicted.

The toddler was taken alongside her mother and spent nine days in the hospital, accruing more than $250,000 in medical expenses. Her parents say she will require future surgeries and will have permanent scarring.

The parents sued the city, initially seeking $1.6 million. The city, worried a jury would award the family significantly more, decided to settle, paying the family $780,000.

Police officials found that Thomas unlawfully discharged his firearm and gave him a three-day suspension and retraining. However, Thomas' fellow police officers maintain that he did nothing wrong.

"This is an unfortunate incident, but the officer was within his right to use force to subdue that dog," said Officer Jason Pappas to The Columbus Dispatch. "The dog was presenting a threat to the officer and he was within his right to discharge his firearm."

Sources: The Columbus Dispatch (2) / Photo credit: tlarrow/Flickr

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