ATLANTA — The parents of a Georgia Tech student killed by a campus police officer two years ago have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the school, the university system and the officer.
Authorities have said university police officer Tyler Beck fatally shot 21-year-old Scott “Scout” Schultz on Sept. 16, 2017. Investigators have said officers responded after Schultz called 911 to report an armed suspicious person matching his own description.
William and Lynne Schultz filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday against Georgia Tech, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and Beck. The lawsuit asks for a jury trial and seeks damages and attorneys’ fees.
A university spokeswoman said in an email that the school doesn’t comment on pending litigation. A spokeswoman for the Board of Regents did not immediately respond to an email Thursday seeking comment.
The suit says Beck used excessive force and wasn’t adequately trained to respond to situations involving people experiencing mental health crises.
“Schultz’s death was the result of Georgia Tech’s and the State of Georgia’s failure over time to properly train their personnel to act in such a way as to prevent the exclusion of persons such as Scott Schultz from the safety to which all students were entitled on the campus of Georgia Tech,” the lawsuit says.
Police said at the time of the shooting that Schultz had a knife and refused to drop it after repeated commands. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said a multi-purpose tool that included a knife was found at the scene, and three suicide notes were found in Schultz’s dorm room.
The lawsuit says Schultz’s actions “were consistent with a person who is experiencing a mental health crisis and were actions which a reasonably trained law enforcement officer would recognize as such.”
One or more of the four responding officers had received specialized training in crisis intervention techniques, and several of the officers stayed calm and took steps to deescalate the situation, the lawsuit says. But Beck instead used physical force, the lawsuit says.
“Immediately after Schultz was told not to move by one of his fellow officers, Beck shot Schultz — firing his weapon one time,” the lawsuit says.
Beck had been an officer for about 16 months at the time of the shooting, and training records do not indicate that he had training in crisis intervention techniques. Less than one-third of Georgia Tech’s police officers had undergone the 40-hour course, according to records released by the school at that time.
Beck was placed on paid leave after the shooting. A university spokeswoman did not immediately respond Thursday to an email asking whether he is still employed by the campus police department.
Schultz was an engineering student and the president of the Pride Alliance at Georgia Tech. Schultz identified as nonbinary and intersex and preferred the pronouns “they” and “them” rather than “he” and “him.”
William Schultz said after the shooting that his child was a great student with a 3.9 GPA and was on track to graduate early in December 2017. He said Scout had spent the summer at home to decompress after having worked straight through the two previous summers.
Scout Schultz had gone through counselling after attempting suicide two years before the shooting, but William Schultz said there was no indication anything was wrong when he dropped Scout off at school the month before the shooting.
Kate Brumback, The Associated Press