Naked Man Shot In The Back By Police Awarded $525,000 Settlement
Theresa Funke said the trauma from being shot by a Las Vegas police officer has kept her son Jason Funke inside for four years.
She said that he only leaves the house to get groceries and the lead poisoning from bullet fragments in his arm keeps him from being active. She said Funke has not gotten over the trauma and mistrust of the police since he was shot outside a Las Vegas church while in the midst of a mental health crisis.
“He didn’t smile for two years,” Theresa Funke said.
In June, U.S. District Judge Richard Boulware ruled that Metropolitan Police Department officer Mark Hatten had “unlawfully used excessive force against Funke,” when he shot him.
A federal lawsuit that Funke had initially filed against the department was dismissed in November after he reached a $525,000 settlement with Metro, according to Jason Funke’s lawyer, Joshua Newville.
Funke first arrived at the Life Springs Christian Church, 2075 E. Warm Springs Road, on Aug. 3, 2017, when he talked to a church employee about his mental health issues, which included feelings of suicidal ideation. He returned to the church the next day seeking counsel and at some point confided in church leaders that he had been experimenting with drugs.
On Aug. 5, 2017, he returned to the church where he took of his clothes and sat down in a “meditation pose,” with the handgun in front of him.
“Yeah, this man is suicidal,” a church employee told a 911 dispatcher. “I talked to him; he’s not making sense.”
A police helicopter was called, and at least six officers arrived at the scene. After sitting for about 10 minutes, Jason Funke stood, picked up the gun, and started pacing in front of the church. He was standing in the church plaza when Hatten, holding a rifle, got into position near other officers.
After about 5 minutes, Funke began walking toward the church. That’s when Hatten said, “I’m gonna take a shot,” according to court records.
‘He had not raised the weapon’
“It is undisputed that Funke had not directly or verbally threatened anyone with the gun, and that he committed no serious crime,” Boulware wrote in the court documents. “He had not raised the weapon toward others or himself.”
After Hatten said he was going to shoot, another officer yelled at Funke to drop the gun. Funke immediately dropped the handgun, put his hands in the air, and began walking toward Hatten and the other officer, court records show.
As Funke was walking toward the officers, one of the officers was struggling to control a police dog, Funke was about 20 to 25 feet in front of the police dog when officers ordered him to lay on the ground.
The police dog broke free but instead of going after Funke, it “attacked another officer instead,” court records show. Meanwhile, Funke ran in the other direction and Hatten “started chasing Funke” and shot him in the back of his left shoulder, when he was about 30 feet from the dropped gun.
The police dog then caught up to Funke and bit into his arm, “which caused a bloody wound,” court records show.
“It’s just mind-blowing how incompetent and unprepared these folks were for handling a mental health crisis,” said Newville, Funke’s attorney. “And how they nearly killed a man who threatened no one but himself.”
Hatten is still employed by the Metropolitan Police Department and is currently assigned to the department’s criminalistics bureau, which includes the crime scene investigations unit. Police spokesman Aden OcampoGomez would not say if Hatten was disciplined for shooting Funke, and declined to comment on the settlement.
Funke’s mother described the physical and emotional scars the shooting left on him as “heartbreaking.” Adding that watching as criminal charges were brought against her son was “almost as bad.”
Funke was initially charged with gross misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure and possession of a dangerous weapon on a school or child-care property, court records show. He later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed weapon and was sentenced to probation.
“Essentially, he said, ‘I’m being punished for having a mental breakdown,’ ” Theresa Funke said.