Missouri family files federal lawsuit in 2017 national park police shooting death

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Family of a Missouri man announced Wednesday they are filing a lawsuit over a shooting in 2017 when 34-year-old Johnathan Bolger died.

This all happened at the Buffalo National River Park. The attorneys behind the lawsuit say this could’ve been anyone and it shouldn’t, that’s why they’ve been working so hard to find justice.

“I have never in my career seen,”  Attorney for Bolger Family, Mike Laux said. “A police officer’s account of a police-involved shooting so entirely refuted by objective evidence.”

Attorneys David Ransin and Mike Laux are filing the federal lawsuit.

“You come out of that statement with more questions than answers,” Laux said. “So we’re gonna get to the bottom of this for the family, David and I.”

According to the report, while camping with his family on a Saturday night and into Sunday morning Bolger thought he saw something outside and went to check it out.

“He got up to investigate and within about 60 seconds of that encounter he’s dead,” Laux said.

The report went on to say, park ranger David Sullivan shot Bolger four times, including once in the back.

Sullivan said Bolger suddenly and quickly turned towards him and raised both arms with a gun still in his left hand and at that point, Sullivan said he fired.

“The Bolger family has made it clear that not a day has gone by without thinking of John and how senseless his death was and how it should never have happened,” other attorney for Bolger Family David Ransin said.

Ransin said this body camera video proves otherwise. He said Bolger was holding a pellet pistol but he never raised it at the rangers.

“The body camera proves that the officer did not tell the truth,” Ransin said. “Most of the body cam video produced so far is blackout and park services have refused to produce the audio recording.”

The lawsuit claims the two park rangers out during the time were negligent in the way they conducted a 1:30 a.m. security sweep.

Even though this happened almost three years ago, Laux said because of George Floyd’s case more scrutiny and raised questions are drawn to police shootings, like Bolger’s case.

“There should be a lot more pressure on these guys post-George Floyd then pre George Floyd because of what we learned from George Floyd is not only we’ve been preaching for decades now about police misconduct but it also has to do with the light handling that they received,” Laux said.

Chief Ranger at the park said Sullivan still works with them. The attorneys and family said they look forward to the first day in court, so they can have some closure and justice for Bolger.

We did reach out to the attorney for Sullivan but haven’t heard anything back yet.

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