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Ex-Tempe officer’s gun claim at center of excessive force lawsuit

Edward Ouimette and Dalvin Hollins
Posted at 5:32 PM, Aug 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 12:29:13-04

TEMPE, AZ — A now-retired Tempe police lieutenant, who shot a Dalvin Hollins in the back, continues to claim the teen pointed a gun at him, although none was found.

Edward Ouimette testified about his decision to shoot in 2016 as a defendant in a civil rights lawsuit filed by Hollins’ family.

On cross-examination, Ouimette was asked, "You know that gun never existed, don’t you?"

Ouimette replied, "That is not correct."He added, "If I saw a handgun, how can I now say it didn’t exist?"

In July 2016, then-Lieutenant Ouimette responded to an armed robbery at a Walgreens pharmacy. He saw Dalvin Hollins about a mile away and thought he matched the robber’s description. He chased the 19-year-old man on foot through a senior living community and into the parking lot of a care center.

Ouimette said he yelled, "Police! Stop, or I will shoot you.” He said Hollins then turned with a gun in his hand. The lieutenant shot Hollins once in the back.

The teen ran into a maintenance room. He bled out and died prior to officers entering. Police found codeine syrup, stolen from the store, in Hollins’ bag.

After public outcry about the officer’s gun claim, Hollins’ family sued Tempe, the police department, and Ouimette for wrongful death, excessive force, and failure to render aid.

On the stand Monday, Ouimette admitted he could not have legally shot Hollins just for running away. He also admitted it would have been excessive force to shoot Hollins if it was a shirt, cellphone, or bag in his hand. No gun was ever found on Hollins, and none was located in the area despite an extensive police search.

Ouimette also admitted that he missed his shoot/don't-shoot judgment training the year before Hollins’ death. The lieutenant was on medical leave at the time.

Ouimette also failed to turn on his body-worn camera until after the shooting.

The lieutenant never returned to his duties at Tempe police after the shooting. He went on medical leave and ended up retiring. He was not criminally charged in the shooting.

Closing arguments in the federal civil case are expected to occur Tuesday.