- Associated Press - Sunday, May 15, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The fight over a Colorado fugitive’s medical bills is headed for a trial in Kansas.

The Kansas Court of Appeal on Friday found that it was wrong for a lower court to rule without a trial that Kansas’ Shawnee County, not Topeka, is responsible for $40,000 in medical bills for Jesse Dimmick, The Topeka Capital-Journal (https://j.mp/23QYu1p ) reports.

Dimmick was fleeing from police in a stolen minivan in 2009 when Kansas officers used stop sticks to deflate his tires. He then forced his way into a nearby home in the western Shawnee County community of Dover, where a couple befriended him. They escaped when he fell asleep.

As a Shawnee County sheriff’s deputy and Topeka police sergeant were arresting Dimmick, the sergeant’s rifle accidentally discharged. Dimmick was taken to Stormont-Vail Hospital, where he spent more than two weeks recovering.

Since then, Dimmick has been convicted in Kansas of charges that include kidnapping and in Colorado of second-degree murder in a deadly stabbing that led up to the chase.

Kansas law requires law enforcement agencies to pay for the medical care of individuals they are holding or detaining. But Topeka Police officers, Shawnee County deputies and Kansas Highway Patrol troopers guarded Dimmick while he was hospitalized, raising questions about who had custody of him.

Rather than hold a trial to determine which law enforcement agency should pay Stormont-Vail, Shawnee County District Court Judge Larry Hendricks issued a judgment declaring Shawnee County financially responsible.

The question was then appealed to a three-judge panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals which, on Friday, reversed Hendricks’ ruling and returned the case to Shawnee County District Court for a trial.

A third judge, Michael Buser, dissented, writing that Dimmick was in the custody of only one law enforcement officer, a Shawnee County deputy, when he was taken to the hospital. Buser said that Hendricks “did not err” and was right to hold the county responsible.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com

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