In the lawsuit filed April 29 in federal court, Burton’s family filed suit against the city of Adairsville, Adairsville Police Chief Robert Jones, APD officer Michael Baldwin, former APD employees Danny Moore and Cathy Dale and demanded a jury trial.
According to the complaint, Burton pawned two firearms at Evergreen Pawn Shop in Adairsville on May 21, 2012. When Dale, an administrative assistant at APD at the time, received the pawn ticket, she obtained a criminal background report on Timothy Burton, the brother of William Burton. Timothy Burton, according to the complaint, had previous felony convictions and had used his brother’s name as an alias.
Dale then provided a copy of Timothy Burton’s report to Moore, who took “false affidavits in which he swore that William Burton was a convicted felon in possession of firearms, which itself is a felony,” the complaint states. The affidavit was used to obtain warrants on William Burton.
About midnight on May 31, 2012, William Burton’s family became concerned about his behavior and called 911 to have officers conduct a welfare check at his Floyd County residence. Floyd County police received confirmation of outstanding, albeit illegal warrants, on William Burton, the complaint states. Officers cleared the home and found William Burton hiding in an attic behind an upstairs closet. Because of the warrants, Floyd County police called in a special weapons and tactics team.
Before executing the warrant, Floyd authorities attempted to confirm the validity of the documents, the complaint states, eventually reaching Baldwin at APD. Baldwin, according to the filing, pulled Timothy Burton’s report and called Moore to ask why the warrants were issued against William Burton instead of his brother.
Moore stated the report did refer to William Burton and that Jones had ordered him to take the warrants against Burton. According to the complaint, Baldwin then confirmed to Floyd County officers the warrants were valid.
Floyd County used “full force to take [William Burton] into custody,” the complaint states, using OC canisters, tasers and asp batons before shooting William Burton at least twice. He died from his injuries.
The family in the complaint state that the APD personnel and the city violated William Burton’s Fourth and 14th Amendment rights and loss of consortium. It seeks action against Moore, Baldwin and Dale for slander and libel; assault and battery; false arrest and malicious prosecution; intentional infliction of emotional distress. The complaint alleges general negligence against Jones.
Although no amount is specified, the suit seeks punitive damages and attorney’s fees.