Bystander shot by Norcross cop claiming paralysis, suing city

A bystander shot by a Norcross police officer during a chaotic 2014 incident outside a local Waffle House has filed a lawsuit against the officer, the city, the police department and its interim chief.

On Oct. 13, 2014, 23-year-old Darnel Hamilton was shot in the leg and neck by Norcross police Officer Jayson Sobhani, who had reportedly been attempting to shoot a different man in the parking lot at 5521 Brook Hollow Parkway. That man had allegedly fired into a crowd during an argument that spilled over from the nearby Fusion night club.

The suit, filed Friday in United States District Court in Atlanta, accuses Sobhani of acting recklessly and claims Hamilton was wounded while "trying to start [his] car and exit the parking lot to avoid the confrontations and mass confusion."

"None of the automobile's occupants were involved in the altercation in the Fusion Night Club or the resulting fight outside of the club, and were only attempting to leave the area for their own safety," the suit says. Hamilton reportedly suffered a "shattered" femur and a neck wound that "resulted in paralysis in his left arm."

The suit asks for unspecified damages.

"According to police reports, [Sobhani] saw multiple flashes coming from a gun being fired amongst the numerous vehicles in the parking lot," the suit says. "The Officer could not determine who the person was aiming at, but claims he feared for the safety of the crowd of people and fired at the location where the muzzle blasts were seen coming from."

A second bystander was also shot by Sobhani, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said at the time. Jones, the suspect, was not hit but was arrested at the scene.

A GBI spokeswoman said Tuesday that, once completed, the agency's investigation into Sobhani's actions was turned over to Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter. Porter "advised that [Sobhani's] use of force was justified and confirmed in a letter to the GBI dated March 10, 2015," the spokeswoman said.

Bill Grogan, the Norcross Police Department's interim chief, was named as a defendant in the suit despite not being chief at the time of the incident. Grogan said Tuesday he could not comment on ongoing litigation but confirmed Sobhani remains employed by his department.