Mo. City Police Department Settles Suit in Shooting Death

June 22, 2006

The family of a man who was shot to death by a Carterville police officer three years ago has reached a settlement with the city and Police Department.

If the settlement is approved by a court, the city’s insurance company and police department will pay $99,000 to the family of Jessie C. Hembree, of Webb City, the attorney for Hembree’s family said Monday.

A settlement was reached between Oak Rivers Insurance Co. and the family during mediation, attorney Aaron Smith said. Oak Rivers has agreed to pay the costs of mediation as well, Smith said.

Hembree, 48, who the family said had mental problems, was shot to death Aug. 30, 2003, by Sgt. Sara Gerber outside a Carterville convenience store.

Gerber was trying to arrest Hembree after he allegedly stole beer and cigarettes from the store. Police said Hembree resisted arrest and was about to attack Gerber when he was shot. A coroner’s jury ruled the shooting justifiable homicide.

Gerber resigned from the Carterville Police Department in 2004.

Hembree’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Jasper County Circuit Court, alleging that Gerber had not followed proper procedures, had assaulted Hembree and had used excessive force. The lawsuit also claimed that the city was negligent in hiring and training Gerber.

The plaintiffs were Linda and Dean Hedgecorth, Hembree’s sister and brother-in-law; another sister, Patricia Foster; and brothers Carl Hembree, Michael Hembree and Joseph Hembree.

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