Nov. 20--MYRTLE BEACH -- Marcus Rhodes -- the Horry County police officer who struggled with and then shot to death a Carolina Forest High School student in 2009 -- will be dropped from a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the student's parents, Rhodes' lawyer told The Sun News on Monday.
Charleston lawyer Alissa Collins, who represents Rhodes, said she is "in the process of drawing up the stipulation of dismissal" to be filed in federal court in Florence. Collins said she could provide no other information about the dismissal.
Ed Bell -- a Georgetown lawyer representing Tom and Karen Varinecz, the parents of Trevor Varinecz -- did not respond to a request for comments.
Rhodes, a school resource officer, shot and killed Trevor Varinecz on Oct. 16, 2009, after the 16-year-old student attacked Rhodes with a bayonet given to him by his father. Rhodes was stabbed seven times and tried to wrest the bayonet away from Varinecz before shooting the student.
News of the dismissal comes days after Rhodes filed court documents asking a judge to grant a summary judgment against Tom and Karen Varinecz. Rhodes, in the court documents, said he is entitled to qualified immunity from the lawsuit because he was acting in self defense when the shooting occurred.
Varinecz's parents also are suing the Horry County Police Department, Carolina Forest High School, the Horry County School District and the S.C. Department of Education, claiming that those entities did not provide proper training to Rhodes that could have prevented their son's death. No court documents have been filed dismissing any of those entities from the lawsuit, which was filed in September 2011.
Tom and Karen Varinecz have said in interviews and court documents that they believe Rhodes should have been able to disarm their son without using deadly force. They say Trevor Varinecz, who suffered from a type of autism called Asperger's Syndrome, took the bayonet to school because he was being bullied by other students and was afraid.
Rhodes -- who was cleared of any wrongdoing by investigations conducted by Horry County police and the State Law Enforcement Division -- said in his court filing last week that Trevor Varinecz was depressed and initiated a confrontation with Rhodes "in an attempt to perpetrate 'suicide by cop.'"
State Law Enforcement Division agents found what they termed a three-page suicide note on Trevor Varinecz's computer during the course of their investigation.
Court documents detail the events that led to the shooting. They state that Trevor Varinecz had asked a teacher for permission to leave class so he could visit Rhodes, and Rhodes agreed to close the door to his office to meet with the 11th-grader in private.
"As soon as Varinecz shut the office door he told Rhodes that there was 'a large spider' behind Rhodes' chair," the court filing states. "Rhodes turned his head away from Trevor to see the spider, and when he turned back to face Varinecz, Varinecz sprang forward from his chair with his bayonet grasped in both hands, aimed at Rhodes' chest."
Trevor Varinecz stabbed Rhodes several times and the officer suffered superficial injuries. Rhodes struggled with Trevor Varinecz and said in court documents that he was worried that if he lost control of the situation Trevor Varinecz would have access to his gun. That is when Rhodes made the decision to shoot the student.
Contact DAVID WREN at 626-0281.
Copyright 2012 - The Sun News (Myrtle Beach, S.C.)