County, DA dismissed from suit over fatal police shooting outside York County Kmart store

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YORK, Pennsylvania — A federal judge has removed York County and its district attorney from a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a man shot and killed by police outside a Kmart two years ago.

U.S. District Judge John Jones III on Tuesday granted a motion by the county to remove it and District Attorney Tom Kerney from the lawsuit filed by the family of Todd William Shultz, 40, who was killed in December 2012 outside the Springettsbury Township store.

Authorities said Shultz had been shoplifting and resisted multiple attempts by officers to arrest him. Authorities said he was armed with a knife and scissors during the standoff outside, during which two officers hit him with batons and a stun gun and finally opened fire after he appeared to move back toward the doorway.

The county argued that no excessive force was used, and that the county and its district attorney don't control local officers.

Family attorney Devon Jacob, who was given 20 days to appeal the ruling, said in a statement that Pennsylvania law calls a district attorney the county's chief law enforcement officer, but he said the family "will focus on prosecuting the claims against the township defendants."

Jones rejected a defense motion to dismiss the suit, ruling that the plaintiffs had established a claim to argue excessive force. He said it was plausible to allege "that Shultz was not 'advancing' toward Kmart in a threatening manner but was in a state of shock and stumbling sideways toward the Kmart entrance."

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