A Florida woman whose anti-government husband and stepson died last year in a shootout with Arkansas police officers says her loved ones suffered "torture killings" and wants authorities to pay her restitution in the form of gold, according to a lawsuit.
Jerry Kane, 45, and his son, Joseph, 16, died in West Memphis last May after the teen fatally shot two police officers near a highway exit ramp. Video from a dashboard camera of a police SUV showed the teen firing an AK-47 at the officers during a traffic stop before he and his father got back into their van and drove away, leaving the officers for dead. The two were killed about 90 minutes later in a shootout with authorities at a Walmart parking lot.
The elder Kane, who lived in Ohio, considered himself a sovereign citizen, part of a group of U.S. residents who declare themselves above federal and state laws and sometimes don't recognize the court system.
His widow, Donna Lee Wray-Kane, filed the lawsuit Tuesday seeking damages for their deaths. In the suit, she specifies how the money should be paid: "gold at $38 dollars per troy ounce." Sovereign citizens believe the nation went bankrupt when it abandoned the gold standard.
Wray-Kane, who has denied that her husband and stepson were sovereign citizens, alleges that their civil rights were violated and that their deaths were "torture killings." In her suit filed in the Middle District of Florida, she cites the "Constitutions of Florida and Arkansas and for the united states of America" and ticks off numbers of sections and clauses, including one that deals with piracies and felonies committed on the high seas.
A federal judge in Tampa, Fla., said Wednesday the lawsuit lacks any facts to back up her claim and threatened to throw it out if she doesn't say why she's entitled to damages by May 2.
"Her complaint is nothing more than a nonsensical recitation of various state and federal constitutional articles and amendments, federal statutory laws, and international treaties," Judge Richard A. Lazzara wrote, adding that police departments are not legal entities capable of being sued.
Wray-Kane did not immediately return a message left Thursday at the phone number listed on the court filing.
The suit didn't come as a surprise to West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert, whose son, Sgt. Brandon Paudert, 39, died along with Officer Bill Evans, 38, after Evans stopped the Kanes for an apparent traffic violation. Since the shootout last May, Paudert said Kane's widow and one of his daughters have tried to contact him, but he hasn't responded.
"We lost so much when we lost Bill and Brandon," Paudert said. "I thought of all the people going to file a suit, it should be us."
Last week, a patrolman in nearby Trumann died in a shootout following a traffic stop some 40 miles northwest of West Memphis. The suspected gunman, Jerry Lard, 37, of Trumann, was hospitalized under police guard after he allegedly shot and killed Officer Jonathan Schmidt and shot at, but didn't wound another officer. Lard appeared before a judge this week and is being held without bond until his next court appearance.
Lard faces charges of capital murder, attempted capital murder, being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of methamphetamine and an unrelated rape charge. William Howard, the public defender who represented Lard in court this week, did not return a message.