Criminal Law: The Thurman Story

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Kaplan University|
Thurman Law|
Professor Underwood-Criminal Law|

Tracey Thurman was a Connecticut housewife who survived beatings from her husband and went on to introduce Thurman Law, which made sure that police officers acted on all calls of domestic abuse. Tracey also sued the City of Connecticut for not doing their job pertaining to her calling the police to come help her when her husband, Charles Thurman, was threatening her life.|

In 1982, Tracey Thurman lived in Connecticut along with her husband, Charles Buck Thurman. Charles Thurman was very abusive. Tracey had even moved out with their son, CJ, to get away from the abuse. Charles would find her and threaten to kill her. Tracey had gone and got a restraining order against her husband. During this time, the police would either show up after Charles had left or would simply tell him that he needed to leave. Only on a couple occasions, did they arrest Charles, but that only kept him for a night.

Tracey lived in fear that her husband would come and kill her. She also knew that she had to protect her son. One night, the domestic abuse rose to a climax that Tracey had been in fear of. Charles Thurman showed up at the house yelling for her to come out or he was coming in to get her. Tracey called the police, before she went outside, hoping she would only have to deal with him for a few minutes before police would arrive.

As soon as Charles heard the police sirens, his agitation rose. Charles pulled out a knife, knocked Tracey to the ground, and started stabbing her in the back and sliced her throat. Her friend yelled for help. The cop had pulled up in the street, but just sat there in his car until he heard screams. When the policeman had pulled up into the driveway, Charles had already stabbed Tracey 13 times in the back and had begun to jump on her head. Charles did hand over the knife to police, but the police officer just stood there in shock until back up arrived. When back up arrived, it took several officers to handcuff Charles and put him in a police car. The ambulance was then able to get in to tend to Tracey.

Tracey was left partially paralyzed and in 1985 received compensation of 2.3 million dollars in damages. She went on to introduce the Thurman Law, which had resulted from failure to get proper protection from the police. The Thurman Law came into effect in 1989.

Here is some of the document from court on Thurman v City of Torrington.
“Between early October 1982 and June 10, 1983, the plaintiff, Tracey Thurman, a woman living in the City of Torrington, and others on her behalf, notified the defendant City through the defendant police officers of the City of repeated threats upon her life and the life of her child, the plaintiff Charles J. Thurman, Jr., made by her estranged husband, Charles Thurman. Attempts to file complaints by plaintiff Tracey Thurman against her estranged husband in response to his threats of death and maiming were ignored or rejected by the named defendants and the defendant City. An abbreviated chronology of the plaintiff's attempted and actual notifications of the threats made against her and her son by her estranged husband to the defendant City and police officers is appropriate for consideration of this motion. In October 1982, Charles Thurman attacked plaintiff Tracey Thurman at the home of Judy Bentley and Richard St. Hilaire in the City of Torrington. Mr. St. Hilaire and Ms. Bentley made a formal complaint of the attack to one of the unnamed defendant police officers and requested efforts to keep the plaintiff's husband, Charles Thurman, off their property. On or about November 5, 1982, Charles Thurman returned to the St. Hilaire- Bentley residence and using physical force took the plaintiff Charles J. Thurman, Jr. from said residence. Plaintiff Tracey Thurman and Mr. St. Hilaire went to Torrington police headquarters to make a formal complaint. At that...
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