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Wife files suit against officers involved in husband's death

Tenisha Felio has filed a federal lawsuit against the officers involved in the death of her husband, James, 27, whom she said was the love of her life. (WSB)
Tenisha Felio has filed a federal lawsuit against the officers involved in the death of her husband, James, 27, whom she said was the love of her life. (WSB)
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Updated: 10/20/2013 10:43 am
LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (WSB) -- A wife whose husband was shot and killed by police says he didn't deserve to die. 

Tenisha Felio has filed a federal lawsuit against the officers involved in the death of her husband, James, 27, whom she said was the love of her life. 

"He was an awesome father. Oh my God. The best father, great husband," Felio said. 

Felio told Channel 2's Tom Jones she never thought his life would be cut short after she called Lawrenceville police in December 2010. 

"All I needed was help. I wouldn't have never imagined the thought that he would be dead behind that," she said, near tears. 

Lawrenceville officers Christopher Hyatt and Karl Hydrick arrived at her home around 5 a.m. that morning when Felio called 911 saying her husband had abused her. 

"He was being abusive and that just wasn't like him," Felio said.

The officers woke James Felio up. They said he curled up on his bed in a fetal position when they tried to arrest him after he refused to answer their questions.

In an interview with investigators, Hydrick said he used his Taser on Felio several times and then he said Felio tried to get his gun as they struggled. 

"He was pulling that way, I moved that way. At that time a shot went off," Hydrick explained.

During his interview with investigators, Hyatt said he feared for his partner's life. 

"Told him to release the gun twice," Hyatt said, and then he opened fire.

Hyatt later said in a deposition Hydrick was struggling with Felio but moved out of the way when he warned him he was about to shoot..

Felio's attorney questions how much danger the officers were in if that's the case. 

"Then where was the imminent harm or danger to the officer that was supposedly in trouble," attorney James Dearing said. 

Dearing also said officers could have used their baton or pepper spray to subdue Felio. 

"Deadly force was inappropriate, was certainly excessive and was unjustified," he said.

Felio said she saw the shooting and her husband wasn't a threat. 

"And I saw the cop wave to the other cop to step to go back and I yelled 'don't shoot.' He waved me back, then I saw him pull the gun down and shoot," she said.

Felio's attorney said the officers didn't follow proper procedures when they arrived at the house and he said the officers' version of the events have changed to justify the shooting.

Brian Dempsey, an attorney representing the officers and the Lawrenceville Police Department, sent a statement saying: 

"After a thorough investigation by the Gwinnett County Police Department, the Gwinnett County District Attorney's Office determined the shooting of James Felio was justified. 

"A suit for money damages has been filed, and the parties are now continuing to gather the facts under the supervision of the court. 

"The City of Lawrenceville Police Department is fully confident that once the facts are established in court, those facts will show no fault on the part of the City, its police department, or its police officers. 

"Because this matter is currently being litigated in federal court, it would be inappropriate for any of the parties to comment further."
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