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Part of suit over 2016 shooting of psychiatric patient settled

Part of suit over 2016 shooting of psychiatric patient settled


Part of an Amherst County man’s lawsuit over being paralyzed in 2016 after a run-in with a security guard at a psychiatric emergency center has been settled.

Jonathan Warner has been pursuing litigation for three years against Centra Health, an architectural firm and numerous individuals who handled his case coming into the center. Court records from last week indicate the architectural firm has reached a settlement agreement with Warner, but complaints against the other defendants still stand.

Warner came to Centra’s now-closed Psychiatric Emergency Center at Lynchburg General Hospital the night of Jan. 16, 2016, for treatment of psychosis that escalated as he stayed there into the early morning hours of Jan. 17, according to his lawsuits and other documents that have been filed in the case.

He tried to grab the gun of Wesley Gillespie, Centra’s security supervisor at the time, who had been speaking with Warner back and forth. The two ended up in a scuffle. After Warner grabbed Gillespie’s Taser and tried unsuccessfully to fire it at another security officer, Gillespie shot him four times.

The shooting left Warner paralyzed from the waist down and prompted a criminal investigation that concluded no charges should be brought against anyone involved. A video recording used in that investigation showed the entire struggle was about 45 seconds long.

Civil cases in Lynchburg and Richmond were batted back and forth in the years following the shooting, filed on behalf of Warner by his mother, Ruth Ann Warner. All were individually withdrawn and combined into a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court last year.

Baskervill Architecture, the Richmond-based firm that designed Centra’s Psychiatric Emergency Center, was named under a claim of negligent design. Warner’s attorneys wrote in the suit that the design lacked safe evacuation routes, separate screening and admission rooms and the firm didn’t “design the facility in such a way that the firearms could be safely stored away from residents.”

Attorneys for Baskervill filed a notice of settlement Friday “subject to finalization of terms.” Court documents don’t detail any terms and Paul Valois, one of Warner’s attorneys, declined to comment for this article.

Most recently, attorneys have argued over records and documents Warner’s team has requested from Centra containing policies and plans for the center.

“A significant aspect of Plaintiff’s claims against Centra arises from its failure to implement reasonable practices and safeguards in the PEC to prevent incidents like this from happening,” Warner’s attorneys wrote.

Centra has claimed in court documents the PEC planning material can’t be obtained in normal legal proceedings.

At the end of August, U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Ballou ordered Centra to hand over certain limited documents it has already referenced in legal filings in order for both sides to resolve that part of the case.

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