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Judge Rejects Parents' Calls for New Columbine Hearing

January 24, 2002|From Associated Press

DENVER — A judge on Wednesday refused to reconsider lawsuits filed by families who want a new hearing because of allegations that a police officer fatally shot a Columbine High School student.

The parents of Daniel Rohrbough have said they believe police Sgt. Dan O'Shea accidentally shot their son as he fled the 1999 school shooting. O'Shea has said he arrived at the school after Rohrbough was slain, and a sheriff's report concluded the boy was killed by a student gunman.

Even if O'Shea did fire the fatal shot, he is still protected by governmental immunity, U.S. District Judge Lewis T. Babcock said in Wednesday's ruling.

He gave the same reason in dismissing all but one of the Columbine lawsuits in November, saying that authorities responded reasonably to a "rapidly evolving violent situation."

O'Shea told Denver television stations Wednesday that video from a KMGH-TV news helicopter on the day of the shootings showed Rohrbough was already shot when O'Shea fired his weapon for the first time.

"Daniel Rohrbough was shot by [Dylan] Klebold and [Eric] Harris right at the outset of this, before anybody had a chance to dial 9, much less 911," O'Shea told KMGH.

Rohrbough's parents have said shell casings from O'Shea's gun that were found near their son's body indicate O'Shea shot him. O'Shea said the news video indicates he fired those shots to provide cover for rescuers trying to reach Rohrbough.

Harris and Klebold shot and killed 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves.

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