by: Chris Six, Ozarks First
The wife of an Ava man has filed a lawsuit claiming that an Ava police officer killed her husband by kneeling on him.
According to the lawsuit, the incident happened on April 4, 2020, when Ava Police Officer Kaleb Berkshire responded to a domestic call. When Officer Berkshire arrived at the home, he found Shane Aumick’s mother and his step-father; they told Berkshire that Aumick was drunk inside the home and was holding a knife.
Court records say Aumick left the home, saying he believed people were trying to kill him and he needed to protect himself. Berkshire saw Shane and told him to put the knife down several times. Officer Berkshire then disarmed Aumick causing the knife to land in the grass; after that, Aumick went back inside the home.
Officer Berkshire then removed his pistol and lightly told Aumick to leave the home with his hands up. Aumick did not come out, so Berkshire repeated it and added that Officer Berkshire would have to enter the home and shoot Aumick if he didn’t come out.
After saying this several times, Aumick slowly walked out of the house with his hands up and no weapon. Berkshire then handcuffed Aumick and sat him on the front porch while Berkshire performed a search of the home. While inside, Berkshire requested an ambulance; he noticed Aumick was bleeding and asked him where the blood was coming from. Aumick said his hands. The ambulance was also to address dog bites Aumick’s mother had.
The lawsuit states family on the scene did not want to press charges against Aumick for what had happened. Aumick’s mother told the officer that he had been drinking vodka.
While sitting on the porch, Aumick kept yelling incoherently, after which Officer Berkshire told him to stop and that nothing was there. Shortly after, Berkshire moved his patrol car to have his lights shine directly on Aumick while sitting on the porch. The lawsuit alleges Aumick started to become agitated by the lights. After more rambling, Aumick then laid down on the porch while still in handcuffs.
Officer Berkshire moved Aumick to where he was lying on his stomach and old Aumick to cross his legs.
“While still on the ground on his stomach, Mr. Aumick continued to yell out while Defendant Berkshire demanded, ‘Stop! Stop, you understand? Stop now!’”
Aumick then pleaded to the officer to have mercy.
According to body camera footage, a shadow indicated Berkshire was kneeling on Aumick with one leg. A few moments later, an ambulance arrived, and Berkshire told paramedics that Aumick was really gone.
According to court documents, Berkshire told Aumick he would get off his back when Aumick stopped yelling. Aumick then said, “Please help me, sir.”
Aumick then stated he was having trouble breathing and was unable to respond. The lawsuit states Berkshire started kneeling on Aumick at 6:22 and got off around 6:30, a total of eight minutes.
Towards the end of that time, Berkshire threatened to tase Aumick, and Aumick was heard making grunting noises then shortly later became silent.
The paramedic asked Berkshire if Aumick was still conscious, and Berkshire said yes, he thought, then said an explicative.
Around 6:30, Berkshire and the paramedic began life-saving procedures until emergency medical staff arrived. At 7:05, the coroner announced that Aumick had died.
Aumick’s wife has filed the lawsuit against Douglas County, the Ava Police Department, Kaleb Berkshire, CoxHealth, Ava/Douglas County Emergency Management, and Steve Wood, the paramedic on scene. The lawsuit has three counts, two counts of violations of civil rights and one count of wrongful death.
The lawsuit states she is looking for compensatory damages and damages for aggravating circumstances against the defendants, punitive damages, and reasonable attorney’s fee and costs.
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of having little to no proper training and that the failure resulted in the violation of Aumick’s constitutional rights.
An attorney in Kansas City is representing Aumick.