MOULTRIE — The family of a man who was shot and killed during an altercation at Reed Bingham State Park in 2005 has appealed a federal judge’s decision to throw out its lawsuit.

A lawsuit filed against current Reed Bingham Park Manager Chet Powell by the family of Curtis Wright Jr., 20, was tossed out by U.S. District Judge Hugh Lawson this week. The lawsuit was from an incident where Powell and Wright struggled at the park Dec. 1, 2005, and Wright was shot and killed. Powell was attempting to arrest Wright for allegedly damaging a soft drink machine.

Dewey Hayes Jr., the lawyer representing Wright’s father, Curtis Wright Sr., and mother, Wanda Boston, said the appeal was filed in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. The question surrounding the lawsuit was whether Powell used excessive force and deadly force against Wright. Powell was cleared of any wrongdoing following an investigation of the incident by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Lawson’s ruling was in great detail examining plaintiffs’ claims under the Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. But in essence, Lawson said there is no evidence to suggest that Powell used excessive force nor that his actions were racially motivated, as alleged by the victim’s family. Powell is Caucasian. The victim was African-American. Lawson also ruled that there was no evidence that would require a jury to hear the case.

The family had asked for a jury trial to be held for Powell, but Hayes said that request was denied by Lawson. The family felt there was a need to hold a jury trial, but it was denied, so the family has appealed the judge’s decision.

The finding by Lawson stated in part that on Dec. 1, 2005, Powell was alerted to someone beating on a soft drink machine at the beach pavilion. Powell investigated and found Wright at the scene. Wright denied that he was tampering with the machine but as Powell saw physical damage to the machine and confronted Wright, Wright reached into his waistband as if he was pulling something out, later to be determined to be a screwdriver.

Powell pulled his gun but then holstered it when he saw it was a screwdriver. As he tried to handcuff Wright, the suspect knocked Powell backwards and tried to flee.

During the process, the finding showed that Powell had holstered his gun twice but that he did eventually spray Wright with pepper spray when he continued to resist arrest. The finding also showed that in his attempt to flee, Wright backed the car up causing Powell to struggle to keep from being run over. During that time, there was a struggle over Powell’s gun. In that struggle, Powell gained the upper hand. The gun was fired twice. One bullet hit Wright in the thigh and the other struck him in the chest.

There were two eyewitnesses to the incident, supporting Powell’s account.

The plaintiffs argued that Powell had no authority to make an arrest, but the court established that Powell was a state conservation ranger and did have the authority to make arrests. It also noted that Wright failed to comply with attempts to be arrested. An autopsy report showed that Wright had used marijuana.

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