Family of man killed by Pierce County Metro SWAT team during May 2013 standoff files federal lawsuit.
The family of an unarmed Fife man killed by a police sniper in front of his young son during a May 2013 standoff with the Pierce County Metro SWAT team has filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the officers and agencies involved.
The man’s parents, Fred and Annalesa Thomas, are joined in the lawsuit by the dead man’s 6-year-old son, identified as E.T. The boy was standing just feet away from his father, Leonard Thomas, when Thomas was shot through the pelvis by a sniper who said he thought the child was in danger.
The child is represented by a court-appointed guardian.
Thomas was the child’s guardian when he and his mother, Annalesa Thomas, had an argument because Thomas had started drinking again following a year of sobriety after learning a friend had died from a sudden illness, according to a $3.5 million claim filed against the SWAT team and its member agencies by the family in January as a necessary step to eventually sue in federal court.
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Annalesa Thomas called Fife police which, in turn, called for the multiagency SWAT team when Thomas refused to come out of the house.
A four-hour standoff ensued before Thomas agreed to send the child home with his mother. Even so, the SWAT team used explosives to blow open the back door of his home as Thomas and the child were standing on the front porch getting ready to send the boy down the sidewalk to his waiting grandmother, according to the claim and police reports obtained by The Seattle Times.
When Thomas reacted and reached to grab the boy, according to the reports, a Lakewood police sniper, Brian Markert, shot him from across the street.
The family’s Seattle lawyers, David Whedbee and Tim Ford, have called the shooting a “damning story of overreaction and incompetence, and the use of unnecessary military-style force against an American citizen.”