V.I. Supreme Court dismisses case blaming government for murder involving cop
Published: October 17, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - After a V.I. police officer shot Caroley Brunn's daughter in 2006, Brunn tried to sue the V.I. government by claiming that the government should have known to never hire the officer, Joel Dowdye.
On Friday, the V.I. Supreme Court dismissed Brunn's claims in an opinion authored by Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Cabret.
In a May 2008 Judgment and Commitment, the V.I. Superior Court found Dowdye, now 45, guilty of first-degree murder and numerous other charges stemming from the murder of Dowdye's ex-girlfriend, Sherett James, 22, and attempted murder of her companion, Daren "Bogle" Stevens.
The two had been rooming together at the Bunker Hill Inn when Dowdye barged in on the two and shot James twice in the head and Stevens twice as well.
Stevens, who was 32 at the time of Dowdye's jury trial in 2007, was a V.I. Bureau of Corrections officer and testified that he had tried to write in blood Dowdye's name in case he died, according to past reports from The Daily News.
The trial was additionally controversial after one of the jurors was accused of making covert Masonic signals to Dowdye during the trial and subsequently was dismissed from the trial.
The juror, Joel Lloyd, was brought back to court on a later date to testify under oath. He denied the allegations that he had been trying to communicate with Dowdye.
Dowdye was convicted of six of the eight original felony charges: first-degree murder, using a dangerous weapon during the commission of that crime, attempted first-degree murder, using a dangerous weapon during the commission of that crime, first-degree assault and using a dangerous weapon during the commission of that crime, the reports said.
Still, Brunn did not think that the conviction and mandatory life sentence that accompanies it was enough.
In 2007, Brunn filed a complaint suing Dowdye for wrongful death and the government for negligent hiring and retention, as well as negligent training and supervision of Dowdye and other officers.
The government responded in 2009, stating that Brunn's had provided insufficient notice of her claim, and that she had no grounds for her claim.
The government asserted that "Dowdye had acted outside the scope of his employment when he killed James," Cabret wrote in the opinion.
Ultimately the court found that Brunn provided insufficient evidence that the government had negligently hired Dowdye.
The court agreed, instead, with the government that "committing premeditated murder is outside the scope of a police officer's employment," Cabret wrote.
It did note, however, Brunn's complaint that the government had kept Dowdye as an officer even after he allegedly was "involved in a domestic violence incident in which he assaulted James," Cabret wrote.
"And while this allegation may support her negligence action, Brunn did not indicate in her notice that this incident was the underlying factual basis of her claim," Cabret wrote.
Just last week, an officer with the V.I. police was arrested also in connection with allegations of domestic violence, which he admitted to, according to a statement from the arresting officer, V.I. Police Sgt. Celeste Potter.
Police spokeswoman Melody Rames said that the police are against domestic violence, and that all that needed to be said about Dowdey had been said during the 2007 trial.
- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email email@example.com.