February 19, 2003
SAN DIEGO -- Two San Diego police officers acted reasonably when they shot and killed former NFL player Demetrius DuBose during a July 1999 confrontation, a federal jury ruled Tuesday.
After about 12 hours of deliberations, the 10-member U.S. District Court panel unanimously decided that officers Timothy Keating and Robert Wills had used justifiable actions.
DuBose, 28, was shot 12 times, including five to his back, during the struggle with police outside an apartment in San Diego's Mission Beach neighborhood. Police said he lunged at them after taking an officer's nunchakus, a weapon consisting of two sticks connected by a short chain.
Officers said DuBose acted aggressively and appeared to be under the influence of a drug. An autopsy showed traces of ecstasy, cocaine and alcohol in his blood.
The district attorney's office declined to file criminal charges against the officers, and federal prosecutors found no evidence they violated his civil rights.
Tuesday's decision came on a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Jacqueline DuBose-Wright, the mother of the former Tampa Bay linebacker, against the officers and the city.
The decision followed a 15-day trial during which witnesses gave conflicting accounts of the confrontation, which came as officers investigated a burglary report.
Deputy City Attorney Frank Devaney called it "the correct verdict."
"The officers have been waiting for three and a half years to have their day in court and they had it," he said.
"It's been hard on them since the beginning of this and they've gone through years of accusations, being called racists and being called murderers."
Brian Watkins, the lawyer representing DuBose-Wright, said he would explore an appeal.
Police Chief David Bejarano said the department "is gratified by the jury's findings, but remains mindful that a man lost his life in this encounter."
DuBose played for Notre Dame from 1989-92, where he was team captain. He was a second-round draft pick of Tampa Bay in 1993 and played four seasons with the team.
COWBOYS: Emmitt Smith's status with the team will remain in limbo for at least another week. He and owner Jerry Jones had their long-awaited meeting to discuss whether the running back will return for a 14th season, and their only decision was to keep talking.
"We will meet again, near the end of next week, at which time we will address the future -- in a manner that we believe will serve the best interests of the Dallas Cowboys and Emmitt Smith," Jones said.
EAGLES: Defensive end Derrick Burgess had surgery for a broken foot bone and running back Brian Westbrook had a wrist injury repaired.
NINERS: New coach Dennis Erickson retained two coaches and added a new linebackers coach in Greg McMackin, a longtime Erickson colleague who has been defensive coordinator at Texas Tech. Retained were Jerry Attaway as physical development coordinator and Terrell Jones as strength development coordinator.