WAUKESHA — The family of a man who was shot and killed by police officers at Waukesha Memorial Hospital last spring is suing the city of Waukesha and the involved police officers, alleging excessive force.
Randy Ashland was shot and killed by Waukesha police officers Ian Dekarske and Ryan Solberg at the hospital's parking lot on April 15, 2020. At the time, prosecutors said that Ashland was armed with a gun and refused officers' orders to drop the weapon. Police said at the time that Ashland further threatened the officers.
That's when the officers opened fire on Ashland. He was brought to the emergency room for treatment, and later died from the injuries.
But the adult son of Ashland, Jay C. Ashland, is now suing the city and the two officers in federal court, arguing that Randy Ashland was in fact complying with the officers' orders to drop the weapon when they opened fire.
"Ashland had his hand over the top of the gun, holding it by the cylinder, and he was tossing it away. His hand was not on the gun’s grip nor his finger on the trigger. Ashland could not have shot Dekarske, Solberg, or anyone else," according to a complaint released Thursday.
The lawsuit adds that thirteen other officers accompanied Dekarske and Solberg during the incident, and none of them opened fire at Ashland, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit concludes that because Ashland was "an imminent danger to no one," the use of deadly force against him violated his constitutional rights.
The suit also describes the events leading up to the fatal incident. It contends that Ashland suffered from pain caused by workplace injuries, and was under further stressed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ashland expressed his anxiety to Pastor John Fallahee, and the pastor feared Ashland was going to kill himself, according to the suit.
The pastor arrived at Ashland's house and persuaded him to come out of his house. Ashland came out with a handgun, got into the pastor's car and said he was deciding whether or not to shoot himself.
The pastor decided to drive to the Waukesha Memorial Hospital to get help. It was there that Ashland refused to enter the facility without the gun, and police soon arrived.
The lawsuit further contends that Sergeant Ian Dekarske and Officer Ryan Solberg never received crisis intervention training, which might prepare them for such a situation, according to the lawsuit.
The suit explains that officers ordered Ashland to put the gun down, and Ashland responded that he did not want to hurt the officers, and then proceeded to lay the gun down. The officers shouted at Ashland to raise his hands, and he too complied, the suit states.
The officers then ordered Ashland to "roll away" the gun, but he answered that he could not, with his hands in the air. Because he could not roll the gun, Ashland decided to pick the gun up and throw it away, picking it up by the cylinder - not by the handle, according to the suit.
That's when the Waukesha police officers opened fire.
The suit demands that Ashland's family be compensated for the officers' alleged use of excessive force, and a declaration that officers Dekarske and Solberg violated Ashland's constitutional rights.
TMJ4 News spoke with Ashland family attorney, Tom Kayes, Thursday, who said that "In this situation a mistake was made. And the mistake cost Mr. Ashland his life and it cost Mr. Ashland’s family a father and a grandfather."
“There is a lot going on in the realm of debate over police reform and those issues but I think an important part of that debate is making sure that we find a better way to maintain the health and safety of folks with disabilities and especially mental health issues," Kayes says.
TMJ4 News has reached out to the city and police department for comment Thursday evening.