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Jury to hear civil case relating to Hoonah shootings next September

Posted: October 30, 2013 - 12:03am

A trial date has been set for a jury to hear the civil lawsuit that was brought against the city of Hoonah in the wake of the 2010 fatal shootings of two Hoonah police officers.

Magistrate James E. Curtain scheduled the 10-day trial to take place Sept. 18, 2014, during a hearing Tuesday in the Juneau courthouse.

Haley Tokuoka, the widow of slain officer Matthew Tokuoka, filed the lawsuit in 2012 seeking $100,000 in damages, saying the city is in part responsible for her husband’s death.

Tokuoka alleges the city was negligent in training its officers on how to deal with individuals with a history of violence and mental health problems, such as John N. Marvin Jr.

Marvin was convicted by a Juneau jury last year on two counts of first-degree murder for gunning down Officer Tokuoka, 39, and Sgt. Anthony Wallace, 32, in the street near his house. He is currently serving two consecutive 99-year prison sentences.

Marvin is listed as a third-party defendant in the civil lawsuit, but attorneys said he has not expressed any interest in defending himself.

Tokuoka’s lawsuit also alleges that Wallace, while employed as a police officer for the city, acted illegally by conducting a “sham traffic stop” on her off-duty husband outside Marvin’s house and negligently flashing a light inside Marvin’s house. Testimony at trial showed that incident immediately preceded the shootings and may have played into Marvin’s delusions that he was under siege by the police.

Attorneys in the lawsuit appeared in court last month regarding a pre-trial issue. Tokuoka’s attorney Mark Choate said the city was refusing to produce a witness to testify under oath to give binding statements about a number of topics, including the policies and training requirements the Hoonah Police Department had in place at the time of the shootings. The city of Hoonah’s position originally was that there was no current police department employee who could do that, but later said former police chief Jeff Hankla could be the designated representative to give those statements.

The parties are next scheduled to meet for a pretrial conference a week before trial next year. Juneau Superior Court Judge Louis Menendez will be the presiding judge.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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