Florence Physician Sues Deputy, Sheriff in Son’s Fatal Shooting Last Year

The Huntsville Times- May 26, 2006

Contends man had psychotic episode and wasn’t violent

A lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday alleges that a Florence man was experiencing a psychotic episode when he was killed by a Lauderdale County deputy in May 2005.

Deputy Jimmie Ray Slaton Jr. fatally shot Bryan L. Long who was trying to glee in the deputy’s car. Slaton was answering a call from the dead man’s father, Dr. Robert L. Long, a Florence physician.

Lawyers Allen Brinkley of Huntsville and Marc Bardack of Atlanta filed the papers on behalf of Dr. Long. The lawsuit names Slaton and the Lauderdale Sheriff Ronnie Willis as defendants.

“We brought this action against the deputy because he used excessive force, “ Brinkley said. “The sheriff is named for not providing proper and adequate training in regard to the use of deadly force.”

Willis declined to comment. The suit seeks unspecified damages.

According to the suit, on May 25 last year, Dr. Long had the Lauderdale County Probate Court commit his son to a local hospital because he was experiencing a psychotic episode. But court officials told Dr. Long there we no hospital beds available.

Dr. Long then called the sheriff’s office and requested assistance with his son. He waited in his driveway for deputies to arrive. Slaton was the fist to arrive. He got out of his vehicle with the keys sin the ignition, the door open and the engine running.

Dr. Long told Slaton about his son’s illness and his desire to have his son detained. He also told Slaton that Bryan had not been violent.

Bryan Long was standing near the house watching when Slaton told him that he was going to jail and took out his handcuffs. Bryan Long ran past Slaton, got into the deputy’s car and shifted it into reverse. Slaton fired three times with his 9mm pistol. A bullet struck Bryan Long in the chest. Slaton said he feared Bryan Long was going to run over him or Dr. Long, according to reports completed by deputies and agents with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation.

Investigators found a partially smoked marijuana cigarette in Slaton’s vehicle, along with food and a soft drink, the reports said. Bryan Long tested negative for marijuana use, Brinkley said. The deputy was never tested, he said.

–David Holden