A judge has dismissed a federal lawsuit that alleged Macon police used excessive force and acted inappropriately while seeking a fugitive at the wrong house.
Friday, U.S. District Court Judge C. Ashley Royal granted a motion for summary judgment filed by lawyers for the police and Macon Mayor Robert Reichert, blocking the case from continuing to a jury trial.
Tony Hill and his son, Tony Hill Jr., filed the lawsuit in 2010. It was later moved to federal court.
Police officers were searching for Antonio Bernard Hill on Dec. 18, 2008. Hill was wanted for questioning in a hit-and-run vehicular homicide case and had two outstanding warrants in Florida, according to the judges order.
Officers had a Xerox photograph that was really kind of hard to make out. They didnt have height, weight or age information, according to federal court records.
Using information from a man accused of marijuana possession, police went to Tony Hills house on Cowan Street and spoke with Hill and his son. Tony Hill Jr. provided identification cards, which police compared to the photo of the man they sought, according to the order.
Meanwhile, an officer who had been outside, near the back of the house, came to the front door, barreled in and handcuffed Tony Hill Jr. with the help of another officer, forcing him to the floor in the process. Within 5 minutes, police concluded Hill wasnt the man they were looking for and was released, according to the order.
The judge ruled that officers made a reasonable mistake because Tony Hill Jr. and Antonio Bernard Hill are of the same race and sex and have the same physical characteristics. Their names are virtually identical, in that Tony is a common nickname for Antonio, and Tony Hill Jr. lived in the same area where police thought Antonio Hill lived, according to the order.
Lawyers for the Hills didnt respond to police officers contention that the force used was reasonable in light of the totality of the circumstances, the judge wrote.
An internal affairs investigation determined the officers didnt violate departmental policies, according to court records.
Tony Hill and his son argued in litigation that they were injured during the incident. Hill contended his seizures worsened after the incident, but he didnt tell his doctor. His son had neck and back pain that kept him from working for two years, according to the order.
Attempts to reach the Hills lawyers were unsuccessful Monday.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.