Content note: mention of injury or death by violence.
On April 21 2015, Daniel Covarrubias was walking home from the hospital when he was reported to the police for alleged trespassing in a lumberyard two blocks from his home. In the ensuing encounter with Lakewood police officers, the unarmed 37-year-old father of 7 was shot dead when officers mistook his cell phone for a gun. In 2018, the family of Daniel Covarrubias filed a federal lawsuit for racial bias and negligence. In 2019, the City of Lakewood settled the case for $500,000.
On August 5, 2018, Wangsheng Leng, a 66-year-old with Alzheimer’s, lost consciousness when he was restrained by Issaquah police officers in his own home. Leng, who was unarmed, died of police-inflicted neck injuries a month later. In 2019, Leng’s widow filed an excessive force lawsuit against the Issaquah PD. In 2022, a federal jury sided unanimously with the police officers.
On January 28, 2016, Jackie Salyers, a 32-year-old pregnant mother of 4, was fatally shot while allegedly driving her car towards Tacoma police officers. Her family had doubts about the police account, given the nature of her injuries. In 2017, Salyer’s mother filed a lawsuit against the officer and the city for excessive force. In 2021, the court sided with the officer and the city.
On September 21, 2017, Brent Lee Heath was shot in the head in Port Orchard after a 12-mile police chase starting in Key Peninsula. The car that Heath was driving was registered to another person who had a warrant for unlawful possession of a firearm. Heath was not armed. The vehicle that he had been driving was disabled at the time when a sheriff’s deputy opened fire. Heath lived with his injuries for more than a year before dying from complications. Heath’s family filed a federal lawsuit for excessive force, which Pierce County settled in 2021 for $3.5 million.
On March 16, 2018, Billy Langfitt’s girlfriend called 911 to report Langfitt’s “mental breakdown”. Pierce County sheriff’s deputies responded. The unarmed 28-year-old Langfitt was fatally shot when he ran towards a patrol vehicle and jumped into the front seat. In 2021, the family of Billy Langfitt filed a lawsuit against Pierce County.
On July 3, 2019, Stonechild Chiefstick was reported to the police for allegedly threatening someone with a screwdriver. Poulsbo police officers fatally shot the 39-year-old father of 7. In 2021, the family of Stonechild Chiefstick filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Poulsbo. In 2022, Poulsbo settled the lawsuit for $2M.
On February 4, 2021, Jenoah Donald was pulled over by Clark County deputies for a broken taillight. When told by a deputy to exit his car, Donald, who was on the autism spectrum, did not comply. A struggle ensued. The deputy punched Donald on the nose at some point, to which Donald responded, “Really?” Donald was then shot. He spent a week on life support before dying on February 12, 2021. In June 2021, his family filed a wrongful death lawsuit.