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Friday, April 8, 2011

CHP Officer Who Shot Woman 12 Times Not Liable After All, Court Says

Posted By on Fri, Apr 8, 2011 at 2:45 PM

Well, the job was clearly  romanticized
  • Well, the job was clearly romanticized

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a jury verdict of wrongdoing against CHP Officer Stephen Markgraf, who shot and killed Karen Eklund as she led officers on a high-speed chase through San Francisco.

On March 26, 2006, at about 2 a.m., Eklund, who was wanted for identity theft, was spotted driving a stolen car near Antioch. CHP officers chased after her as she sped at 100 mph along Highway 4 and across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco.

Eklund finally came to a stop at a cul-de-sac in the Mission Terrace neighborhood. While Markgraf tried to get her to turn off her ignition, she ignored him, yelling "Fuck you" before ramming her car three times into his cruiser.

Within 30 seconds of the collision, officers drew their weapons, yet Markgraf was the only one who fired, shooting Eklund 12 times before another officer told him to stop. She died instantly.

Although Eklund was unarmed, Markgraf defended the shooting, saying he was scared that she was about to run over officers. Eklund's daughters, who were 10 and 12 at the time, sued Markgraf and won. The jury awarded them $60,000 in damages, plus another $560,000 for legal fees.

But in a 3-0 decision, the Ninth Circuit this week overturned that verdict, saying the case should have never gone to a jury trial and that Markgraf was clearly in a high-pressure situation where he thought he was in danger.

Given how quickly the shooting happened after she rammed her car into his vehicle, "he lacked the opportunity for actual deliberation," the court said.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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