Donna Aldea and Alexander Klein Win Federal Appeal on Behalf of Family of Young Man Killed by Police

Donna Aldea, head of Appellate and Post-Conviction litigation, and partner Alexander Klein recently won a second appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ordered a new trial in the case of an unarmed man who was shot and killed by Suffolk County Police.

In 2011, 26 year old Kevin Callahan was senselessly shot and killed by a Suffolk County Police Officer while unarmed, in his own home, wearing only his pajamas and socks. Today, on what would have been Kevin Callahan’s 39th birthday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unanimously reversed the District Court’s decision granting the Officer’s and County’s motion to dismiss this case on summary judgment, allowing Kevin’s family -- after over a decade of litigation -- to seek accountability and finally achieve a measure of justice.

This is the second appellate victory by Aldea and Klein in this case against the police officer and the county. In 2017, they persuaded the federal Court of Appeals to reverse a verdict in favor of the County, which had been obtained with a legally improper and prejudicial jury instruction about how to evaluate deadly force cases of this nature. The 2017 decision and coverage are linked here.

Notwithstanding the Second Circuit’s 2017 mandate awarding Callahan a new trial, however, the County moved, and the District Court granted, a dismissal of the case on “qualified immunity” grounds, holding that the police officer-gunman should be held immune for his conduct. Aldea and Klein then appealed – and won – again.

On March 19, 2024, the Second Circuit once again reversed the District Court, remanding the case for a new trial. It held that the District Court had violated the “mandate rule” in dismissing the case without affording the “new trial” the Circuit had previously ordered; and it held that, in any event, the substance of the District Court’s opinion was erroneous, because in light of material questions of fact concerning the police officer’s behavior, he legally could not be afforded blanket immunity before the trial.

For over a decade, BEKAL has fought tirelessly for justice for Kevin Callahan and his family. Today, that goal is in sight.