Attorney Chuck Douglas announced that the law firm has settled the September 30, 2013, fatal shooting of Wendy Lawrence in Manchester for $750,000.
Ms. Lawrence had been pursued on the Interstate for speeding, but after she arrived in Manchester at exit 9S she obeyed all speed limits thereafter and at that point the State Police Lieutenant in charge of the matter ordered his troopers to discontinue pursuit. Wendy Lawrence was an unarmed, nonviolent motorist who was wanted only for motor vehicle violations.
As alleged in the lawsuit, a few minutes later at Kennard Road and Dave Street, Trooper Chad Lavoie used a blocking maneuver and ultimately ended up shooting at Wendy Lawrence’s car eleven times. She died shortly thereafter.
Douglas said “While she struggled at times with mental health issues and addiction, she was not violent or hostile. Wendy was lively and vivacious and had a talent for making people feel comfortable and relaxed. She loved family gatherings and parties, and worked part-time as a disc jockey and karaoke host for events.”
Lawrence, age 45, was a mother of two young men and at the time of her death had just become a grandmother.
The Attorney General’s office under Joseph Foster found the shooting to be justified, however, a civil suit was filed by her son in U.S. District Court in Concord in 2014.
Following mediation on November 1 the matter was settled without admission of liability on the part of Trooper Lavoie. Lavoie was indemnified by the State of New Hampshire in the amount of $750,000.
The settlement follows the September 5, 2017, denial by Federal Judge Paul Barbadoro of the State’s attempt to have the case dismissed on summary judgment. Judge Barbadoro said, in his 31 page opinion, that Lavoie “witnessed no reckless driving and could not have reasonably believed that other officers were in significant danger.” The court also found that a jury “could conclude that Lavoie acted recklessly or wantonly. “
Merely attempting to flee does not constitute a violent felony “or demonstrate that Lawrence posed a threat to others” said the judge. The case is Estate of Wendy Lawrence v. Chad Lavoie, Civil Action 1:14-CV-00570-PB.
The case in federal court will be dismissed as a result of the settlement. Attorney Richard Lehmann was co-counsel with Chuck Douglas.