A lawsuit, filed in February, by the daughter of the Aurora man shot dead by a police officer in 2016 no longer includes the police chief or city of Aurora as defendants, after the plaintiff's counsel filed on Monday to withdraw them from the case.
The original suit, filed by Jasmin Sekscinski of Jefferson City, named the city of Aurora, police chief Rick Witthuhn and Officer Weston Welch as defendants in the alleged wrongful death of her father, Thomas Sekscinski, who died as a result of gunshot wounds after a high speed chase in August 2016. Nearly two months later, the suit has been updated to remove Witthuhn and the city as defendants. Defendants in the case now include Weston Welch, the former Aurora police officer whose shots resulted in Sekscinski's death and who was included in the suit originally, and Kyle Houck of the Aurora police department.
Ms. Sekscinski is seeking damages for wrongful death, claiming that on the night in question, her father "was known. . . to be unarmed, had never presented as a danger. . ., and was surrendering" when 18 shots were fired toward him and his vehicle.
As reported in 2016, the shooting occurred after Welch, believing Sekscinski to be driving a stolen GMC Suburban, pursued him at a high speed out of the city and eventually down a dead end road near McDowell. Over the course of the pursuit, radio contact between Welch and the dispatch officer was lost, leaving Welch without backup.
According to the lawsuit, Welch was advised by Houck to downgrade the pursuit if it got too dangerous, but he continued to chase the deceased at high speeds through Lawrence County and eventually into Barry County.
The pursuit eventually came to a halt when Sekscinski attempted to turn around on the dead end lane between two large trees. According to the suit, the GMC "slowly inch[ed] toward the police car that was blocking the lane of travel," at which time Welch had exited his own vehicle and was now between the police car and Sekscinski's truck. As the GMC continued to roll toward Welch, the officer opened fire into the windshield, dispatching all 18 rounds from his Glock 17.
The suit states that the shots continued even after Sekscinski had raised his hands, saying "Ok, ok, I'm done," and that Welch would have been close enough to hear the surrender over the police siren.
The claims against Welch by the plaintiff state that he knew the deceased to be unarmed and surrendering and that the officer had "a duty to exhaust all other reasonable means of apprehending Mr. Sekscinski prior to resulting to deadly force."
The lawsuit also claims that Houck "had a duty to downgrade Defendant Welch's pursuit" and make sure he had "exhausted all other reasonable means" of apprehending his suspect "because the pursuit reached speeds of up to 93 mph over a license plate discrepancy."
The lawsuit was filed a year after Barry County Prosecuting Attorney Amy Boxx decided not to pursue criminal charges against Welch, finding that the use of deadly force was justified and considering the investigation closed.