The family of a 29-year-old schizophrenic man who died in 2017 after he was tazed multiple times and choked unconscious twice by Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies has sued, claiming one of the deputies was involved in a similar death years earlier.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle by the mother and sister of Andrew Dold, whose mother talked to a mental-health professional and then called a friend, who suggested she call police in hopes of getting Dold some help after they had fought over money.
Instead, it claims the first two deputies on the scene, Bryson McGee and Cody McCoy, tried to arrest and handcuff Dold. They struggled throughout the house and into the front yard, where, according to news reports and the lawsuit, at least five deputies used a Taser on Dold seven times. He was choked unconscious at least twice before the deputies found he was unresponsive after they handcuffed him, reports said.
According to the lawsuit, McGee had been responsible for the 2010 death of Adam Collier, who had a heart attack after McGee jolted him three times in quick succession with a Taser after responding to reports of a disturbance in Gold Bar.
Collier, who was intoxicated and on drugs, struggled with the deputies and McGee attempted to gain his compliance with the Taser, according to court documents. The man’s family filed a federal lawsuit in 2013, alleging excessive force. The county settled for $600,000 without admitting liability, according to news reports and Collier’s attorney, James Lobsenz.
McGee was not disciplined in connection with either death, according to the sheriff’s office and court documents. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Shari Ireton said McGee has since left the sheriff’s office to work for another agency she did not identify. She said the county had no further comment on the lawsuit.
Lobsenz is now representing Dold’s family in its lawsuit against McGee, McCoy and the county. His lawsuit alleges that the county was negligent in failing to discipline McGee for what happened to Collier in 2010 and that its decision to continue employing him “was a proximate cause” of Dold’s death seven years later.
It also alleges that Snohomish County failed to learn a lesson about the use of Tasers on people who are in crisis.
“Long before the death of Alexander Dold, Snohomish County knew that Tasing mentally ill persons created a risk that the Tasered person would die from either excited delirium or cardiac arrest or a combination of those two things,” the lawsuit alleges. Excited delirium is a condition marked by extreme agitation, violence and unexpected strength.
The lawsuit says that Dold was living with his mother, Kathy Duncan, in Snohomish and that they had argued over money that day — he received monthly disability checks and his mother, Kathy Duncan, gave him a daily allowance. When they argued, according to the lawsuit, Dold tried to grab the phone and knocked over a chair before leaving the house.
Worried and upset, Duncan called the local health department, where she said a counselor told her that Dold wasn’t violent enough to warrant a home response by a mental-health professional, the lawsuit said. Duncan then called her daughter, who, in turn, called a friend who was a police officer. The lawsuit says that individual suggested Duncan call the sheriff’s office.
Duncan said she waited until Dold came home and then called 911 and said her son needed to go to the hospital. The dispatcher, in sending deputies, reported the “suspect” was “mental and off his meds,” the lawsuit said.
Dold was calm and watching TV on the living room couch when McGee and McCoy arrived. He answered the door and, when one of the deputies asked to come inside to talk to Duncan, Dold reportedly said he didn’t want to talk and tried to shut the door, the lawsuit alleges. The deputies responded by forcing their way into the home, it says.
What ensued was a fight and wrestling match between Dold — described as a “gentle giant” by some who knew him — that raged through several rooms in the home and then back out onto the front porch, according to court documents.
The lawsuit alleges Dold was struck, kicked and choked unconscious twice by McGee, who employed a “lateral vascular neck restraint” on Dold in hopes of subduing him. After he was choked unconscious once, the lawsuit said, Dold revived before the deputies could handcuff him and McGee used the same hold again.
The lawsuit said the deputies each used their Tasers on Dold three times, and when other deputies arrived as backup a third deputy tazed Dold again. The deputies said they punched, kicked and struck Dold numerous times before he was subdued with handcuffs and leg hobbles. By then, at least five deputies were involved, the lawsuit said.
Deputies then noticed that Dold had stopped moving and wasn’t breathing, the lawsuit said. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.