Who is responsible for the actions of an adult with mental health challenges who breaks the law? That was the question at the heart of oral arguments Monday at the South Dakota Supreme Court. Donald London shot South Dakota Trooper John Koenig on January 7, 2015 during a standoff.
“Donald walked outside the farmhouse and said, ‘I’m going to die today, you’re going to die today,’ and fired 146 rounds directed at law enforcement … generally, people are not held liable for the intentional, unlawful conduct of another,” Bonnie London’s lawyer Aaron Fox said.
London pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. He also pleaded that he was mentally ill. He suffers from schizophrenia. Koenig survived and sued Donald and his mother in civil court. They say that Bonnie London was negligent in supervising Donald and trusted him with guns. They also claim that she lied to him shortly before the standoff.
“Donald’s violence in this case was foreseeable because Bonnie knew that this would set him off,” the Koenigs’ lawyer Andrew Fick said.
A judge decided that Bonnie London didn’t owe the Koenigs anything. Now the Koenigs are hopeful the state supreme court overturns that.
“But for Bonnie’s conduct, this shooting would have never happened,” Fick said. “Bonnie knew that Donald was in an escalating pattern of violence. She knew that he had just been in an armed standoff with law enforcement, and despite knowing all of these facts, she falsely told him that the ATF was coming to the place he was living.”
“Bonnie didn’t have any legal authority over Donald … Donald made his own day-to-day decisions,” Fox said. “He decided to come back to South Dakota. He decided where he was going to live. He decided to drink alcohol knowing he has mental health issues. And on January 7th, he made the decision to get the guns, to threaten law enforcement, and shoot at law enforcement.”
We will continue live streaming arguments from the South Dakota Supreme Court this week on KELOLAND.com.