Lawsuit filed in fatal shooting of Kroger robbery suspect
INDIANAPOLIS -- The mother of an Indianapolis man who was fatally shot inside a Kroger store late last year has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the supermarket chain.
Toni Atkinson reportedly filed the federal lawsuit July 13 on behalf of 26-year-old Jeremi Atkinson, the would-be robber who allegedly forced an employee into the store office and then charged the Kroger manager.
Marion County prosecutors have cleared the shooter, saying 24-year-old Elijah Elliott -- a North Putnam High School and Wabash College graduate -- was justified under Indiana law when he shot Atkinson on Dec. 26 during a robbery attempt.
Elliott resigned from Kroger in February, stressing then he was not being pressured to leave, even though Kroger has a policy prohibiting employees from bringing a handgun or any other weapon to work.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court, claims Kroger "failed to supervise employees and enforce safety policies, including Kroger's policy that no employee shall carry a firearm while on duty."
Atkinson is seeking at least $75,000 in damages. The complaint does not mention the attempted robbery.
A spokesman for Kroger said the Cincinnati-based grocer had not received notification of the lawsuit and knew nothing about it.
In resigning on Feb. 2, Elliott read a statement, stressing that Kroger had been supportive and offered to let him keep his job at the West 71st Street store.
Elliot said he had a permit to carry a handgun for three years and knew he was violating a policy that bars employees from carrying weapons. Nonetheless, Elliott said he feared for his life and does not regret his actions.
"I hoped I would never have had to use my weapon for protection," he said. "But Mr. Atkinson chose to commit a violent and dangerous act."
Surveillance footage and witness testimony indicate the suspect came up behind an unarmed security guard, ordering her into the office. A second Kroger employee reportedly saw Atkinson grab the guard in a chokehold, shoving her against a wall.
That employee hollered for Elliott. When the manager responded, the suspect let the guard go and reportedly lunged instead at Elliott, who fired his gun at Atkinson.
"At that point, he charged after me in an office where I had no position to retreat. That's all it is," Elliott said in February.
"It's a regrettable situation, and I do think about it every single day," he said of the fatal shooting. "I wish the situation never happened."