Lawsuit: Tucson police failed to protect slain woman

2013-12-26T00:00:00Z 2013-12-30T12:33:08Z Lawsuit: Tucson police failed to protect slain womanBy Darren DaRonco Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The parents of a woman who was shot and killed by a former boyfriend are suing the city and the Tucson Police Department for negligence.

John and Wendy Hicks  claim TPD officers didn’t do enough to protect their daughter from the man she had a restraining order against.

They claim officers dragged their feet for over three months to arrest the man for violations of an order of protection.

If police had reacted in time, the  Hickses say, their daughter would still be alive.

Both city and TPD officials would not comment on the lawsuit, stating its not their policy to discuss pending litigation.

In December 2012, Ashley Hicks, 23, was shot multiple times by Joseph Leroy Francis, 23, in the parking lot of the Canyon Creek Apartments at 160 N. Pantano Road.

After shooting Hicks, Francis drove to the Marana home of the woman’s parents and informed them he had killed their daughter. He left soon after.

The parents reported the encounter to the Marana Police Department.

When Marana police arrived at Francis’ home, they heard a single gunshot and found him dead in the driveway from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The lawsuit contends Tucson police could have prevented Ashley’s murder if they had arrested Francis in preceding months for multiple violations of an order of protection.

Hicks and Francis broke up in August 2012. After the break-up, Francis’ behavior became “progressively abusive and violent,” court documents said.

Francis would stalk Hicks and harass her, her family and her co-workers. Court documents said the harassment “escalated to physical confrontations and threats against her.”

As a result, Hicks took out an order of protection. Despite the order, Francis continued to harass

her. On Sept. 12, 2012, Francis punched through a window at Hicks’ home and unlocked the front door. Once inside, Francis toppled an entertainment center and threw a motorcycle helmet at Hicks.

After Hicks said she called police, Francis smashed her cellphone and grabbed a butcher knife and threatened to kill himself. Hicks hid in a closet. When police arrived, Francis had already left.

Francis continued to terrorize Hicks after that night. Though TPD officers promised they would arrest Francis for his violent actions toward Hicks, they never did, court documents said.

Francis shot Hicks more than seven times on the night of Dec. 20, 2012 .

A TPD officer contacted John Hicks in January 2013 looking for contact information for Ashley because he was following up on the Sept. 12 incident.

John Hicks informed the officer his daughter was murdered a month earlier.

The officer couldn’t tell John Hicks why nothing had been done sooner, court documents show.

The lawsuit contends if officers had arrested Francis, he would have likely received significant jail time and been evaluated, and possibly treated, for mental illness.

Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or ddaronco@azstarnet.com. Follow on Twitter @DarrenDaRonco

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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