The Texas woman who recorded her husband’s death at the hands of his ex-wife’s boyfriend has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the gunman.
Kyle Carruth killed Chad Read on Nov. 5 during an argument in front of Carruth’s house in Lubbock. Chad’s wife, Jennifer Read, captured it on video. She says her husband was murdered; Carruth says he shot Chad in self defense.
Jennifer is accusing Carruth of negligence, civil assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence per se in her $50 million lawsuit. She names Carruth and his company Vitruvian Development, LLC as defendants.
The day of the shooting, Chad and Jennifer had gone to Chad’s ex-wife Christina Read‘s place of employment, which was also Carruth’s home. Christina is Carruth’s girlfriend.
Chad, Carruth, and Christina were arguing over the timing of a custody handover regarding Chad and Christina’s son. The fight escalated: Carruth went into the house and emerged with a gun, and fired a shot into the porch near Chad’s feet. After some further physical fighting over the gun, Carruth shot Chad twice, killing him.
“Chad Read was unarmed,” Jennifer’s complaint says. “He had no history of violence. He had never physically harmed his ex-wife Christina. Chad Read and his ex-wife Christina were simply arguing, like they had done many times before.”
“But, this time was different,” the complaint continued. “This time Kyle Carruth interjected himself into the familial argument. He unnecessarily brought a gun. Kyle Carruth needlessly escalated the situation. Chad Read only approached Carruth aggressively after Carruth fired a weapon in Chad’s direction. Even after the two men briefly struggled, Chad Read was no longer within arm’s distance of Carruth when the killing shot was fired.”
The complaint says Carruth knew what he was he was doing when he shot Chad, and it wasn’t self defense.
“Defendant William Kyle Carruth killed Chad Wayne Read. Carruth was not ‘standing his ground’; he was not acting in ‘self-defense.’ Carruth had played out this situation in his mind; he has talked about what he would do to Chad when speaking with others. Kyle Carruth was the aggressor, who needlessly escalated an otherwise nonviolent situation, leading to the wrongful death of Chad Wayne Read.”
Carruth’s actions, the complaint says, amounted to negligence that resulted in Chad’s death.
“Defendants owed Chad Read a reasonable duty of care to act as a reasonably prudent person would act under the circumstances,” the complaint says. “On the occasion in question, Defendants breached their duty of care owed to Chad Read, which collectively and severally constituted negligence and gross negligence.”
Jennifer is seeking $50 million “for actual damages for pecuniary losses, mental anguish, loss of companionship and society, loss of inheritance, physical and mental pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical expenses, and funeral expenses,” the complaint says.
“Every Texan has the right to defend themselves and their property—no one, however, has the right to interject themselves into someone else’s conversation, return and bring a gun to an otherwise nonviolent argument, escalate the argument to violence, creating a violent situation, and then shoot and kill an unarmed man,” Jennifer’s attorney Anthony Buzbee said in a statement.
Judge Les Hatch, of the 237th District Court, has filed a motion to recuse himself from the case, and is asking for a district judge from outside Lubbock County to be assigned to the case, according to the Avalanche-Journal.
Carruth’s estranged wife, Ann-Marie Carruth, is a district court judge appointed in January by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to fill a vacancy. On Wednesday, she announced her plans to officially run for the position.
Carruth’s involvement in Chad’s death came to light after Jennifer filed a petition to take custody of the children Chad shared with Christina. Jennifer says that the children are in danger simply by being in the presence of the man who killed their father.
Jennifer also said in the filing that Christina and Carruth conspired to either assault or kill Chad.
David Guinn, an attorney for Carruth, has said that his client was acting in self-defense, and cited a video taken from another angle to support this theory.
“Mr. Read had every opportunity to leave,” Guinn said. “He was threatening to others. Police had been called and he knew that, Mr. Carruth came out the door, the gun pointed in the air and told him to leave. Most people would have.”
It is unclear whether there is a criminal investigation into the shooting.
An attorney for Jennifer told Law&Crime that a criminal investigation into Carruth was underway. The Lubbock County District Attorney’s office told Law&Crime that it has recused itself from the case; questions were directed to Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office. The AG’s office didn’t respond to Law&Crime’s request for information in time for publication.
According to a report by local NBC affiliate KCBD, the shooting death resulted in “no arrests and a 34-word police report.”
“While it is unique that the [Chad Read] case has been passed on to the Texas Attorney General’s Office due to the Lubbock County DA’s recusal, there is nothing unique about LPD’s investigative process of this case,” Lubbock police said in a statement, according to the television station. “As previously stated, pursuant to Chapter 552 of the Texas Government Code, also known as the Public Information Act, suspect information cannot be released unless there is a direct threat to the public, or unless an arrest has been made. Each case investigated by the Lubbock Police Department is based upon the facts present at the time, and actions taken by law enforcement are dependent upon the details of the case.”
Carruth is a longtime pro-gun activist who has represented the Lubbock 2nd Amendment Coalition. In 2015, he went on a local radio talk show to discuss possible gun regulations that were on an upcoming city council agenda.
“Many people view this as a type of incrementalism. I mean, they’re chipping away at our Constitutional rights, little by little,” Carruth said. “They do not have the right to deny citizens the ability to protect themselves in there.”
You can read Jennifer Read’s complaint, below.
[Editor’s note: this story has been updated to include additional details from Jennifer Read’s complaint.]
[Images courtesy Matthew L. Harris.]
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