Aug. 18—OXFORD — A federal judge has stepped down from a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a woman shot and killed by a former Oxford policeman.
U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers has recused himself from presiding over the suit filed by the family of Dominique Clayton against the city of Oxford.
In an order filed last week, Biggers said he was "personally acquainted with some of the parties and witnesses and potential parties and witnesses" in the case and asked to be recused. Since Biggers and the court are based in Oxford, he has more than a working relationship with many people in the city administration and the police department.
Since other judges in Oxford would have similar issues, the case has been reassigned to Senior Judge Glen H. Davidson, a senior status judge from Tupelo, who normally hears cases in the Aberdeen court location.
The U.S. District Court in Oxford has also given the city 40 more days to respond to the 15-page complaint filed Aug. 5 by the family of Dominique Clayton. The civil suit, which asks for unspecified damages and demands a jury trial, names the city, Police Chief Jeff McCutchen and former officer Matthew Kinne as defendants.
Kinne, 40, pleaded guilty to capital murder on July 30 in Clayton's death. He was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole by Circuit Court Judge Kent Smith.
The family's complaint asked for a response from the city and McCutchen by Aug. 26. Citing allegations made in the complaint, which will take time to investigate, the defendants asked for a 40-day extension. Since the family and their attorney Carlos Moore did not object, Magistrate Judge Roy Percy gave the city until Oct. 5 to respond.
The lawsuit claims that Kinne was acting under the color of law when he conducted a welfare check on Clayton, 32, and shot her in the head while she slept in her own bed in May 2019. It alleges he was in uniform and in a marked Oxford Police Department vehicle, making witnesses believe he was there on official business.
The lawsuit claims the city and police department are liable because they hired Kinne despite an allegedly checkered past. In the complaint, Moore claims that while Kinne was working for another law enforcement agency, his wife at the time died from suspicious circumstances. Moore claims Kinne was a person of interest in her death, which he said was eventually ruled a suicide.
Attorney Anthony Farese, who represented Kinne in the criminal case, disputes Moore's claim and says Kinne's first wife is, in fact, still alive.
Moore told the Daily Journal he did not know the supposedly dead woman's name or when she died, but those questions would be answered by his investigation.
Under the causes of action, the complaint said Kinne violated Clayton's Fourth and 14th Amendment rights "to be free from excessive force" and to be free from "city law enforcement evincing reckless disregard." The complaint additionally blames the department for the negligent training, supervision and retention of Kinne.
The complaint lists Clayton's daughter, Shyjuan Clayton, as the plaintiff on behalf of the family.
Kinne was married with an infant child when he met and began having a roughly nine-month affair with Clayton. He reportedly would visit her 1009 Suncrest Drive home in the Brittany Woods subdivision late at night for sex.