According to the suit, police body-camera video showed Iosia Faletago wasn't holding a gun when he was shot. The incident is being investigated by the Washington State Patrol.
The father of a 36-year-old man fatally shot by a Seattle police officer on New Year’s Eve has filed a federal lawsuit, alleging “what appears to be the unnecessary execution” of his son.
The suit, brought by Mane Faletago over the death of Iosia Faletago, asks for unspecified monetary damages for loss of companionship. It was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, naming the city of Seattle and the officer who fired the shot, Jared Keller.
The shooting occurred about 5 p.m. on Dec. 31, after police stopped Iosia Faletago in a car he was driving on Aurora Avenue North. He ran from officers and was shot after a chase and struggle involving six officers, during which he produced a handgun.
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According to the suit, Keller’s body-camera video showed Faletago’s hands were “entirely free of the weapon at the moment he was shot.”
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The shooting is the subject of a criminal investigation by the Washington State Patrol, which was asked by Seattle police to conduct an independent inquiry.
Relatives of Faletogo have questioned why Faletogo was shot in the back of the head when his hands appeared to be empty and splayed on the ground in front of him.
Faletogo went down on his hands and knees as the officers tried to take him into custody, police video showed.
Before Faletogo was shot, he can be seen on slowed-down video with a gun in his hand. He then is seen with no gun in his hands, with the gun at his side on the ground at the time the officer fired.
At one point, the video shows, an officer yelled “he’s reaching,” prompting Faletogo to look up and apparently say, “I’m not reaching.”
Keller then fired at close range, striking Faletogo, the video showed.
“In this situation, the use of lethal force was not necessary, and full de-escalation was never attempted,” the lawsuit alleged.
The suit, filed by Lincoln Beauregard of the Connelly Law Offices in Tacoma, does not include any claims by the estate of Iosia Faletogo or any other beneficiaries under state law, according to the filing. Faletogo was the father of two children he shared with his girlfriend.
Dan Nolte, spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office, said his office was reviewing the complaint and doesn’t comment on pending litigation.