State High Court dismisses lawsuit against Fairbanks police

Posted: Sunday, September 30, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- A police department can't be sued for failing to arrest a person who later commits a crime with no prior warning, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The court ruled on a lawsuit brought by the three surviving children of a Fairbanks woman, Carmen Dore. She was killed by her estranged husband Jack on April 29, 1986. He then took his own life.

Carmen Dore had obtained a protective order against her husband after he made death threats, and Magistrate John Hessin issued an arrest warrant seven days before the murder. But he remained at large.

Carmen Dore's children, Jason, Brandi and Jamie, filed a lawsuit in 1996 alleging the city failed to protect their mother.

Superior Court Judge Charles Pengilly granted the city's motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The Alaska Supreme Court upheld that dismissal on Friday.

The Dore children argued that by maintaining a police force, the city had an obligation to protect those who receive death threats.

But the court ruled that police can be liable if an officer takes no action after knowing the likely time and place of a crime or if someone commits a crime while in police custody.

''In this case, the Fairbanks police had little idea when or where Jack might carry out his threat, or even if he would do so,'' Justice Walter L. Carpeneti wrote.

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