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He was naked and running away when police shot him. Metro now owes him $525K.

The trauma from being shot by a Las Vegas police officer has kept Jason Funke inside for four years, his mother says.

He only leaves the house to get groceries. The lead poisoning from bullet fragments in his arm keeps him from being active. He hasn’t gotten over his mistrust of the police since he was shot outside a Las Vegas church while in the midst of a mental health crisis, his mother said in an interview.

“He didn’t smile for two years,” Theresa Funke said.

In June, U.S. District Judge Richard Boulware ruled that Metropolitan Police Department officer Mark Hatten “unlawfully used excessive force against Funke” when he shot the then-25-year-old on Aug. 5, 2017.

A federal lawsuit Funke brought against the department was dismissed in November after Metro and Funke reached a $525,000 settlement, according to Jason Funke’s lawyer, Joshua Newville.

The day Funke was shot, he was standing naked outside the Life Springs Christian Church in southeast Las Vegas. Church employees called police after seeing him sitting on the ground with a stack of cash and a gun in front of him.

The ensuring confrontation ended with Hatten shooting and injuring Funke after he turned away from officers and began running in the direction of a gun that was about 30 feet away, court records show.

“It is undisputed that no Metro officer or employee even attempted to contact or speak with Funke for over 15 minutes despite Funke being clearly in a mental health crisis,” Boulware wrote in court documents.

Funke’s mother said the settlement was reached to spare her family from going through a trial.

“But there’s no ramifications with that,” Theresa Funke said. “Other than it being case law for the next person who goes through this, God forbid.”

‘Incompetent and unprepared’

Jason Funke moved to Las Vegas when he was 21. After finding success in competitive World of Warcraft and online poker, he wanted to try his hand at playing in the casinos, Theresa Funke said.

Instead, life in Las Vegas brought on depression and isolation.

He first arrived at the Life Springs Christian Church, 2075 E. Warm Springs Road, on Aug. 3, 2017, when he talked to a church employee about his mental health issues, including feelings of suicidal ideation, court records show. He sought counseling the next day, and at some point confided in church leaders that he had been experimenting with drugs.

On Aug. 5, 2017, he again walked to the church, took of his clothes, and sat down in a “meditation pose,” the handgun in front of him.

“Yeah, this man is suicidal,” a church employee told a 911 dispatcher, according to court records. “I talked to him; he’s not making sense.”

A police helicopter was called, and at least six officers arrived at the scene. After sitting for about 10 minutes, Jason Funke stood, picked up the gun and began pacing in front of the church. He was standing in the church plaza when Hatten, holding a rifle, got into position near other officers.

Five minutes later, Funke began walking toward the church. That’s when Hatten said, “I’m gonna take a shot,” according to court records.

‘He had not raised the weapon’

“It is undisputed that Funke had not directly or verbally threatened anyone with the gun, and that he committed no serious crime,” Boulware wrote in the court documents. “He had not raised the weapon toward others or himself.”

After Hatten said he was going to shoot, another officer yelled at Funke to drop the gun. Funke immediately dropped the handgun, put his hands in the air, and began walking toward Hatten and the other officer, court records show.

As Funke was walking toward the group, one of the officers was struggling to control a police dog, which was barking and pulling at its leash. Funke was about 20 to 25 feet in front of the police dog when officers ordered him to lay on the ground.

Instead, Funke ran.

The police dog was released, but instead of going after Funke, it “attacked another officer instead,” court records show. Meanwhile, Hatten “started chasing Funke” and shot him in the left shoulder, when he was about 30 feet from the dropped gun.

The police dog then reached Funke and bit into his arm, “which caused a bloody wound,” court records show.

“It’s just mind-blowing how incompetent and unprepared these folks were for handling a mental health crisis,” said Newville, Funke’s attorney. “And how they nearly killed a man who threatened no one but himself.”

Hatten is still employed by the Metropolitan Police Department, and is currently assigned to the department’s criminalistics bureau, which includes the crime scene investigations unit. Police spokesman Aden OcampoGomez would not say if Hatten was disciplined for shooting Funke, and declined to comment on the settlement.

Previous settlement

Funke told his mother that he wanted to go forward with the lawsuit against Metro because of Hatten’s background, Theresa Funke said.

Hatten was also at the center of a $500,000 settlement Metro reached in 2018 with the mother a man who died in police custody after Hatten shocked him with a Taser 10 times for just over 90 seconds.

Hatten stopped 44-year-old Anthony Jones on Dec. 11, 2010, while he was driving near J Street and Lake Mead Boulevard.

Jones was acting “erratically,” Hatten said, and the two men got into a fight, according to police records.

Peter Goldstein, who represented Jones’ mother, has said the fight was actually Hatten shocking Jones with a Taser while other officers attempted to restrain the 44-year-old.

Another officer also used his Taser on Jones twice for a combined 10 seconds. Investigators determined neither officer violated department policy.

“Officer Hatten had tased this other person to death, and he could have very well killed Jason,” Theresa Funke said. “Jason is alive miraculously.”

The physical and emotional scars the shooting left on Jason Funke were “heartbreaking,” his mother said. But watching as criminal charges were brought against her son was “almost as bad.”

Funke was initially charged with gross misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure and possession of a dangerous weapon on a school or child-care property, court records show. He later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed weapon, and was sentenced to probation.

“Essentially, he said, ‘I’m being punished for having a mental breakdown,’ ” Theresa Funke said.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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