A state district judge could decide this week whether the parents of a criminal suspect, shot and killed by a West Tawakoni police officer in 2005, can proceed with their wrongful death suit against the city.

Chrisita Champion of Texarkana and Stacey Smith of Quinlan, mother and father of John Beck Smith, have alleged the officer used excessive force and was negligent in having to shoot Smith, 23, during a violent struggle.

The officer, Robert Rose, claims Smith attacked him and attempted to steal his handgun and that he acted in self defense.

The incident in question occurred early on the morning of Dec. 7, 2005. According to court records, Rose had been dispatched to a reported disturbance on Raintree Road and while en route to the call, he observed a Ford F-250 pickup driving in the opposite direction, speeding.

In the statement he gave to an investigator with the Texas Rangers following the incident, Rose said the driver of the pickup veered into his lane and attempted to hit his patrol vehicle, forcing Rose to drive into a ditch.

Rose turned and gave chase and said he later observed a pickup matching the description of the truck that had attempted to hit his vehicle outside of a residence in the Arrowhead Addition.

Rose said he approached the vehicle on foot, and Smith was in the driver’s seat. Rose said he ordered Smith to show his hands and exit the vehicle several times, but Smith did not comply. Rose said he pulled his sidearm from the holster after Smith attempted to start the truck. When Smith failed to do so, Rose returned his firearm to the holster and retrieved a canister of pepper spray, spraying Smith in the eyes to no effect.

Rose attempted to remove Smith from the vehicle, leading to a scuffle. The two men wrestled, with Rose saying he was attempting to prevent Smith from going inside the residence. A second man assisted Rose, who said he was unable to put handcuffs on Smith.

At one point, Rose said, Smith had him a choke hold and was attempting to reach Rose’s firearm. Rose said he was starting to black out, but was able to obtain the weapon and fired three times over his shoulder, hitting Smith once.

The parents, acting without an attorney, filed their suit against both Rose and the City of West Tawakoni on Dec. 7, 2007, the last day they could do so before the statute of limitations expired.

The City of West Tawakoni has filed a response, seeking a dismissal of the suit against Rose first, then the city, claiming both are covered under governmental immunity.

A hearing is scheduled Thursday in the 354th District Court concerning the claims of immunity, during which Judge Richard A. Beacom could decide to dismiss the suit.

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