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Federal appeals court reinstates lawsuit against officer who fatally shot man in parking lot


ELSMERE, Kentucky — A federal appeals court has reinstated a wrongful death lawsuit against a northern Kentucky police officer who fatally shot a man.

The Kentucky Enquirer ( reports the three-judge panel in Cincinnati ruled last week that the suit filed by the man's parents contains enough evidence to move forward.

Elsmere officer David Byrd fatally shot 21-year-old Michael Godawa in 2012 in the parking lot of a bar.

Godawa's parents say he was trying to get away, and the officer should not have fired his weapon.

"I'll fight this until the last breath that comes out of me," Don Godawa said. "I know my son. He wasn't a bad kid at all."

Byrd's attorney, Jeff Mando, says Godawa, who was in a vehicle, tried to run over the officer.

"This was a justified use of lethal force," said Byrd's attorney, Jeff Mando. "I was extremely disappointed in the Sixth Circuit's ruling. Michael Godawa attempted to flee a lawful stop. He totally attempted to run Officer Byrd over. He put Officer Byrd's life and the patrons of the Finish Line who were in that area in danger."

No criminal charges were brought in the case and Byrd still works as an Elsmere officer.

The Godawas' attorney, Christopher Roach, said the officer is at fault for what happened.

"You can't deny Michael was trying to leave," Roach said. "Byrd put his body in front of the car to keep him from getting away... There's no danger to Officer Byrd at the time (the shot was fired)."

Both attorneys say videos of the encounter support their interpretation of how the events unfolded. The newspaper, which viewed the videos, said they are dark and unclear, in part because the encounter happened about 1 a.m.

Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer,

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