KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (CN) - A Tennessee sheriff's deputy shot a 68-year-old man to death in his own rental property, where he'd gone to check out a burglary report, his widow claims in court.
Cynthia Ridinger, widow of the late Henry Taylor, claims Blount County Sheriff's Officer Ernest T. Ragland shot her husband to death on Aug. 21, 2013, firing at him 11 times through the window of Taylor's own dark garage. One shot hit him.
Ridinger says that she and her husband lived close to their rental property in Louisville, Tenn.
They discovered on Aug. 20, 2013 that the vacant home had been burglarized, and reported it to the Blount County Sheriff's Office.
Ridinger reported the next day that it had been burglarized again, she says in the complaint.
After getting home from work that night, her husband went to check what was missing, at about 9:30 p.m. He "carried a flashlight and was lawfully armed with a small pistol," the widow says in the complaint.
At 10 p.m., defendant Ragland "decided to perform a self-initiated property check," Ridinger says. The burglars had cut the power supply, so the garage was dark, the widow says. She says that Ragland looked in through a window to the garage, saw her husband, and "(w)ithout identifying himself as a police officer and without giving any warnings to the decedent Taylor whatsoever, the defendant Ragland immediately began firing his semiautomatic pistol through the window and wall of the detached garage at his unidentified target, the decedent Taylor."
"The defendant Ragland fired at least 11 bullets at the decedent Taylor and one of the bullets penetrated and killed the decedent Taylor."
It was dark inside and out, and Ragland "was unable to properly identify his target and the defendant Ragland made no effort to identify his target," the widow says. Nor, she says, did Ragland give her husband any verbal commands before killing him.
She seeks punitive damages for wrongful death, assault and battery, civil rights violations, negligence, pain and suffering and loss of consortium.
She is represented by M. Christopher Coffey, with Pryor, Flynn, Priest & Harber.
Also named as defendants are Blount County and its Sheriff James Berrong.