The wife of Glenn Rightsell is seeking an unspecified amount in wrongful death damages, according to a notice sent last week to a number of government entities, laying the groundwork for a possible lawsuit.
The 56-year-old Linden man died five months ago after he was shot by an Indiana State Police trooper during an encounter along U.S. 231 near C.R. 550N. And the Indianapolis-based attorney representing Rightsell’s family said legal action is likely.
“The tort claims notice is a preservation of rights,” Attorney Bruce Kehoe said. “It’s not an institution of any legal proceeding. It’s preserving one’s rights to do so if and when they think it’s appropriate. From what I know now, I would think it is likely, but the final decisions haven’t been made on that, certainly.”
Kehoe said his office recently received the last of the results from the Indiana State Police investigation into the Dec. 28, 2018 incident.
Montgomery County Prosecutor Joe Buser announced March 6 that no criminal charges would be filed against Trooper Daniel Organ, who shot Rightsell after he allegedly reached for a loaded semi-automatic pistol he was carrying on his hip. Rightsell had been working on a disabled vehicle at the time.
A tort claim notice dated May 20 was sent to nine entities and individuals, including Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter and Lt. Tom McKee, who is the District 14 Commander at ISP’s Lafayette post. A tort claim notice informs a public agency that a lawsuit could be coming, and one must be filed with the Indiana Attorney General before the state can be sued.
The notice was also sent to Montgomery County Sheriff Ryan Needham, Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton, the Crawfordsville Common Council and the Board of Works and Public Safety. Beth Sessions, the former director of the Central Communications Center who retired earlier this month, also received the notice along with the Indiana Political Subdivision Risk Management Commission, which runs the funds that provide “insurance of last resort” to Indiana cities, counties and other political subdivisions.
The claim says the entities named were “negligent and/or reckless in administering excessive force, failing to address Glenn’s need for immediate medical attention and failing to implement and supervise the policies and procedures which should have prevented” such an outcome. The claim states that under Indiana’s Wrongful Death Statute, Rightsell’s wife is entitled to damages including medical and funeral expenses, loss of future income and support and “loss of love and affection” along with estate administration expenses and attorney’s fees.
“We’re certainly making progress with trying to sort things out,” Kehoe said. “It’s certainly still such a senseless tragedy to have somebody die for no real reason. We’re 100 percent convinced that Glenn Rightsell did nothing to deserve to be shot. Once he did get shot he still should not have died from his injuries, but he did, so we’re looking at all the legal ramifications of them.”
Kehoe said a “proposed complaint” for failure to protect an airway was filed against Franciscan Health and the emergency room doctor who worked on Rightsell before he died.