Saturday, November 17, 2018
CLOSE
 
Family of Unarmed Man Killed By Police Settles for $13 Million
By Associated Press
Published September 13, 2018

Leonard Thomas, a 30-year-old father, was killed by police. (Courtesy of the Thomas family)

The city of Lakewood, Washington, its police chief and two officers have agreed to pay $13 million to the family of an unarmed Black man who was killed four years ago as he clutched his 4-year-old son following a four-hour standoff.

The Seattle Times reported Friday that the payment would settle a wrongful-death and civil-rights lawsuit stemming from the May 24, 2013 SWAT-team sniper-death of 30-year-old Leonard Thomas.

In 2017, a unanimous verdict by a jury in U.S. District Court in Seattle found the cities of Lakewood and Fife and members of the Pierce County Metro SWAT team committed 14 separate civil-rights violations that night. Thomas never displayed a firearm and never threatened police or his son, according to testimony at trial. No guns were found in his house.

The panel had singled out Lakewood Police Chief Mike Zaro  then an assistant chief  and Lakewood officers Sgt. Brian Markert and Mike Wiley for punitive damages totaling $6.5 million, finding their actions were particularly egregious and led to Thomas’ unnecessary death.

Zaro was in command that night and gave the orders that led to the shooting. Markert, the sniper, shot Thomas in the stomach with a precision high-powered rifle. Wiley led an assault team that blew down the back door of Thomas’ house and killed the family dog, Baxter.

The settlement, which came as the case was being considered by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on an appeal by the city, provides that Lakewood will pay just $1 million from its own coffers. The largest portion, $11.5 million, will be paid by the Washington Cities Insurance Authority (WCIA). Fife already settled with the Thomas family and estate for $500,000.  The settlement also includes attorneys’ fees of nearly $2 million.

The family settled last month to avoid a prolonged appeal, said plaintiff’s attorney John Connelly, who represented Thomas’ estate and his 9-year-old son at trial.

Thomas’ mother had called police that night, seeking to help her son who was intoxicated after being sober for a year and in crisis over the death of a friend.

The Metro Pierce County SWAT team, a multiagency operation, responded with more than 20 heavily armed officers and an armored vehicle, which they drove onto Thomas’ front yard. Over the next four hours, Thomas repeatedly told police to go away and officers agreed he had committed a misdemeanor assault on his mother at best.

In a statement, the city of Lakewood said that “this agreement does not erase the events that transpired or the lasting effects of Mr. Thomas’ death on his family and the police officers involved, but the city hopes it will provide closure and help everyone move forward with the healing process.”

Categories: National | News
Tags: | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |

Get the Los Angeles Sentinel App!



Since 1933 The Voice of Our Community Speaking for Itself.
85 Years of LA Sentinel.
Black News.
SEARCH:    

Legends


Photo of the Day
Events

LA Sentinel
in your pocket:





WBOK 1230am
Real Talk For Real Times
A Bakewell Media Company

LA Watts Times


TOS-Cookbook-Web

© 2018 Los Angeles Sentinel All Rights Reserved • A Bakewell Media Publication

Contact UsAboutMedia KitCorrections & Misprints

Terms of ServicePrivacy Policy

LA Watts TimesTaste of SoulWBOK 1230am

Close / I'm already on the list

Subscribe Today!

Don't be limited anymore! Subscribe Now »

** Existing subscribers, please Login / Register for Digital »

Subscribe to The Los Angeles Sentinel for only $5.99 $3.99 per month, with 1 month free!

Relax in comfort each week as you read the printed newspaper on your own time, delivered weekly to your home or office. This subscription also includes UNLIMITED DIGITAL ACCESS for all of your devices. Includes FREE shipping! One easy payment of $3.99/month gets you:

Subscribe Now »