Guy Thomas’ family suing city

Published 10:27 am Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The family of an Ironton man whose body was found beneath an Ironton city police cruiser has filed a lawsuit against the city and the former city police officer at the heart of the controversy.

Louverne Miller and Juan Thomas, co-administrators of the estate of Guy Thomas, are the plaintiffs in the suit that was filed June 2 in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

The body of Thomas, 45, was found in the parking lot of the city police station underneath the cruiser of former officer Richard Fouts.

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Fouts was accused of dragging Thomas 10 blocks on a cold, snowy night on March 8, 2008. Thomas was pronounced dead at the scene.

His death sparked protests and marches from family members and friends who questioned the circumstances of the incident.

In May of that year a Lawrence County grand jury chose not to indict Fouts, who by that time had resigned from the city force.

County Prosecutor J.B. Collier said he believed the jury was influenced by the fact that Thomas was intoxicated at the time and that the autopsy could not determine with certainty if the man was dead or alive when the cruiser made contact with his body.

An autopsy performed by the Franklin County Coroner’s Office stated that the blood level of Thomas, a 5-foot-4-inch male weighing 135 pounds, registered a toxic to lethal concentration of alcohol.

The complaint alleges that the police cruiser had a sheet of ice covering the windshield and that Fouts had scraped a small hole in the ice on the driver’s side. It also alleges that Fouts reported he “thought he struck either a dog, or a curb or a snow bank. Fouts did not stop his vehicle to determine what he had struck.”

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $25,000 and a jury trial. William Gustavson of Cincinnati and Kenneth Reed of Ludlow, Ky. are the attorneys of record for the plaintiff.

Calls made to a member of Guy Thomas’ family and Gustavson’s cell phone were not returned as of press time.

When contacted Tuesday morning Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship said he “hasn’t been informed” of the lawsuit.