Family says they were unaware of court date

A wrongful death lawsuit filed by the mother of the late Tayler Rock in Cowley County District Court was dismissed last week due to a lack of prosecution by the plaintiffs, court records show.

The lawsuit was filed by Jacqueline Parke on Sept. 14, 2017, on behalf of her granddaughters. Plaintiffs named were Cowley County, the Cowley County Board of Commissioners, former Cowley County sheriff’s deputy Steve Deill and former Cowley County corrections officer Ana Bedolla.

Rock was shot and killed by Deill on May 31, 2014, during a traffic stop on U.S. Highway 166 east of Arkansas City. An investigation by the office of former county attorney Chris Smith ruled that the shooting was justified because Deill reasonably feared for his life after Rock grabbed Deill’s wrist from inside his vehicle and started driving away.

Contacted by phone Friday, Jacqueline Parke said she was irritated by the dismissal of the lawsuit and that she had never been notified of the court date.

“I will never stop fighting for my son,” she said.

Darren Parke, Rock’s stepfather, said he also didn’t know about the court date. He said the legal system is corrupt because it doesn’t help victims if the person who committed a crime has a badge. He also said the CourierTraveler is at fault for not questioning Smith or the Cowley County Sheriff’s Office more thoroughly.

Members of Rock’s family have maintained that there is more to the story, including alleging in court filings that Deill and Bedolla, the mother of one of Rock’s daughters, conspired to murder Rock.

In December 2018, the court agreed to allow Parke’s counsel, Wichita attorney James A. Thompson, to withdraw from the case for personal reasons. Parke was given until March 15, 2019, to find another attorney, and all discovery was stayed until that date.

According to court records, the defendants asked the district court to dismiss the case on May 10 because of the plaintiff’s failure to prosecute the case, retain a new attorney by the deadline or respond to written discovery in a timely manner. 

On June 6, a hearing was held at Cowley County District Court in Winfield regarding the dismissal request. David R. Cooper, a lawyer for the defendants, was present. No one appeared for the plaintiff. After waiting a half hour, Judge Nicholas St. Peter granted the motion and the lawsuit was dismissed. 

Records show a copy of the journal entry showing the dismissal was served to Parke on June 7.

A separate wrongful death lawsuit filed in federal court in 2015, in which Rock’s family sought $5 million in damages, was dismissed after an agreement between the two parties in April 2017, according to court records.

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