A former Mississippi police officer serving life in prison for killing his mistress in 2019 has been ordered by a federal judge to pay $2.2 million to her four children. According to The Associated Press, Matthew Kinne was on May 26 ordered to pay compensatory damages amounting to $1.2 million and $1 million in punitive damages.
Per the ruling passed by senior U.S. District Court Judge Glen Davidson, each child will receive $300,000 in compensatory damages. Davidson said the former police officer’s actions “were intentional, wanton, willful and reckless. Accordingly, punitive damages are appropriate.”
Lead attorney Carlos Moore told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal that this could be the largest ever amount awarded for an excessive force case in Mississippi.
Kinne was sentenced to life in prison after he pleaded guilty to killing 32-year-old Dominique Clayton. Kinne and Clayton were said to be romantically involved, and he fatally shot her after she reportedly ended their affair and threatened to tell his wife about it.
Clayton’s children are currently aged 11 to 17. The money was awarded to the deceased Black woman’s children after Kinne failed to respond to the lawsuit. The default ruling also came a month after Kinne pleaded guilty to killing Clayton. The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in August 2021.
And though Kinne currently has no earnings, the city of Oxford will have to foot his bill if Clayton’s family can prove the former cop committed the crime while he was on duty as a member of the Oxford police force, The Associated Press reported.
“The million-dollar question is whether his actions were within the scope of his employment,” said Moore.
The lawsuit alleged that Kinne drove a patrol car to Clayton’s house to perform a welfare check. He was also wearing his uniform, the suit added.
Clayton was fatally shot in the head while she was sleeping at her home on May 19, 2019. The deceased mother’s children were not at home when the incident occurred as they were sleeping over at their uncle’s residence, FOX13 reported.
Her body was, however, discovered by her then-eight-year-old son upon their return the day after her death. Clayton’s son had gone inside the home to try and bring her out for a prank while the rest of the family waited outside. But he returned alone to inform them she was dead.
“It broke us because my sister was the life of the party, she made us laugh,” Clayton’s sister, Shyjuan, said after her death in 2019. “My sister was crazy and silly. It won’t be the same without her.”
Shyjuan also told the news outlet her sister and Kinne were having an affair. “She was having an affair with Matt, the police officer with OPD [Oxford Police Department],” she said. “(He was) real possessive and stalking her… kept sneaking in her house I guess he did this so he wouldn’t have to tell the wife.”
“He bought my sister a car and kept it in his name,” Shyjuan added. “He was about to get her a house. He just basically didn’t want his wife to find out.”