County officer placed on leave
John Britton, an officer with the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department, was placed on administrative leave last week.
Harrison County Sheriff G. Michael Deatrick said he recently spoke with an attorney who advised him that it would be best if Britton was put on administrative leave after it was announced that the estate of Christine Britton was planning to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Deatrick, the county commissioners and county council.
John Britton’s wife, Christine, allegedly died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in March at the couple’s home near Ramsey. Indiana State Police investigators said John Britton admitted leaving a handgun in the room when, during an argument, his wife threatened to shoot herself.
‘I couldn’t tell you how long he’ll be on leave,’ Deatrick said. ‘It’s indefinite.’
Harrison County Prosecutor Dennis Byrd is still in discussions with chief deputy John E. Colin to decide whether a grand jury will be called to review the case. To date, no charges have been filed against John Britton.
On Sept. 16, Charlotte Hitner, Christine Britton’s mother, was recorded as serving as the personal representative of her daughter’s estate for the purpose of bringing a wrongful death action on behalf of Christine Britton’s 13-year-old daughter. The claimant anticipates the damage to be in excess of $700,000, but per Indiana Code, the $700,000 amount is the maximum allowed by law.
Because Christine Britton had no will when she died, the only two people who are eligible for proceeds of her estate are her daughter and widow; however, a wrongful death judgment against Britton would disqualify him from receiving any proceeds awarded to the estate.