A D.C. Superior Court jury yesterday awarded $45,000 to Richard Thomas, 69, a retired salesman who sued the District of Columbia government after he was shot through the chest five years ago during a struggle with a D.C. policeman.
The bullet passed through Thomas's body, broke one rib and exited without striking any vital organs. He was released from D.C. General Hospital five days after the incident, which occurred on April 29, 1972.
According to attorneys in the case Officer Andrew Bell, who has since retired from the police force, tried to serve a police summons on Thomas in the Safeway supermarket at 14th Street and Park Road NW.
The summons invited Thomas to discuss with the D.C. Corporation Counsel an allegation from a taxi driver that Thomas was hacking without a license. The complaint apparently grew from Thomas' practice of taking shoppers at the Safeway to their homes in his car.
Thomas refused to accept the summons. A struggle ensued between Thomas and Bell with another police officer joining in. Thomas was shot with Bell's service revolver.
Later, Thomas was charged with assaulting a police officer, a felony. At a preliminary hearing May 11, 1972. Superior Court Judge Tim Murphy dismissed the charge for want of probable cause.
Thomas sued the city on grounds of assault and battery, false arrest and imprisonment, and negligent failure to transport him to prompt medical treatment.