Appeals court rules against family of Ute tribal member



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A couple who says officers shot their Ute tribal member son after a car chase has hit another roadblock in their attempts at suing police.

A federal appeals court this week upheld a ruling that threw out a wrongful death lawsuit by Todd Murray's parents.

Justices on the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday sided with officers who said evidence shows Murray, 21, died in 2007 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Murray's parents dispute that, arguing officers shot him after a car chase on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in northeastern Utah. They filed a $6 million wrongful death lawsuit against police, the city of Vernal and Uintah County.

They said Murray was a passenger in the car, and officers had no probable cause to believe he committed a crime. They argued police lacked jurisdiction to pursue him on the reservation and violated his civil rights.

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2014, but Murray's family appealed.

Murray family attorney Frances Bassett said the family is disappointed and wanted a jury to hear the case. She said they had not decided if they will appeal the latest decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A Utah Highway Patrol officer tried to stop the car in which Murry was riding in Uintah County. Following a chase, Murray left the car, and officers from multiple agencies pursued him.

He died soon after from a gunshot wound. His parents argued a Vernal police officer shot Murray in the head.

Evidence showed the officer was more than 100 yards away and reported seeing Murray put a gun to his own head and fire it, the justices said.

An autopsy report later showed Murray was intoxicated and had recently taken methamphetamine.

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The Associated Press

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