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Judge denies motion to dismiss Amarillo officers' lawsuit

Judge denies motion to dismiss Amarillo officers' lawsuit

A district judge denied an Amarillo officer's request to have a civil rights lawsuit dismissed on Tuesday.

Amarillo officers Lieutenant Scott Chappell, Sergeant Thomas Callahan and Sergeant Chris Sheffield are in a legal battle with California parents Michael Wartena and Michael Tiffany Stewart over the handling of the investigation into their daughter Alexis' disappearance, who was later found dead in T-Anchor Lake in Amarillo.

READ MORE: California family pushes to continue lawsuit against Amarillo officers

Lieutenant Chappell filed to have the case dismissed or in the Alternative, For a Rule 7 Reply, and Brief in Support on September 14. The request for dismissal was denied on October 31, because it requested for all claims to be dismissed. The judge granted the alternative and the Wartenas have now been ordered to file an amended complaint with additional specifics.

1) the capacity - individual or official - in which each Defendant is being sued, 2) the names of each specific Defendant who committed the alleged unconstitutional acts, the location where these acts occurred, as well as the time frame in which these events unfolded, to the extent now known, and 3) all other facts necessary to support Plaintiffs' claims and causes of actions and to cure the factual pleading deficiencies as noted by the Defendant Chappell.

The Wartenas must re-plea with a complete and accurate timeline of what property officers seized in their investigation and if the items where returned. They need to inform the court the status of their remaining four children and if they were returned to them after being taken by Child Protective Services. They must also provide details as they know it regarding the officers' claim that they have video evidence of one of the Wartena's children saying the parents left with Alexis and returned without her.

READ MORE: Amarillo officers deny claims in civil rights lawsuit

The Wartena's lawyer, Jesse Quackenbush, told ABC 7 News he is looking for solutions. He said, "Although APD is not a party to the lawsuit, we hope at some point to begin a dialogue with the City about increased training for officers responding to future reports of missing autistic children. There is absolutely no doubt that increased awareness and training of first responders regarding common characteristics and patterns of autistic children who go missing will increase the probabilities of successful search efforts in the future."

Quackenbush also noted that the Wartenas and the officers will have their depositions on January 2 and January 3, followed by a court ordered settlement conference on Janaury 4.


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