Wife of slain man sues city

By Travis Andersen
Globe Staff / November 20, 2010

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A Dorchester woman whose husband was fatally shot by police three years ago after he stole a cruiser and brandished a pellet gun has filed a $4 million lawsuit against the city of Boston.

In a wrongful-death complaint filed Thursday in federal court in Boston, attorneys for Kim Sanders Barker, 45, allege that Boston police officers used excessive force and violated the civil rights of her husband, Marquis Barker, 38, when he was killed Nov. 21, 2007.

The Suffolk district attorney’s office ruled last year that police acted lawfully in the shooting.

According to court documents, Sanders Barker called 911 when her husband began walking in circles in front of their Fuller Street home with a pellet gun pointed at his head. She told a dispatcher that Barker was diabetic and suffering a mental breakdown and that he was a correctional officer armed with a pellet gun, the complaint said.

The officer who received the call failed to pass along the information to his partner, according to the complaint, and a supervisor, Sergeant Detective Joseph MacDonald, did not warn responding units to exercise restraint. Attorneys for Sanders Barker also say MacDonald did not request assistance from a psychiatric professional.

Barker was still pointing the gun at his head when police arrived, the complaint said, and they ordered him to drop it. Barker instead entered a vacant police cruiser and drove off, according to court documents.

Several police vehicles pursued Barker, the complaint said, and he was boxed in by one after he crashed into a gate. The complaint alleges that while Barker remained in the cruiser, Officer Claire Duffy fired at the vehicle “without warning or provocation.’’ Three officers, Henry Doherty, Jeffrey McLean, and Martin Harrison fired after Duffy, according to court documents.

“At all relevant times, Barker was sitting . . . with both hands on the steering wheel in plain view and with the windows rolled up,’’ the complaint said.

A Boston police spokeswoman said the department does not comment on pending litigation.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at