Family of Washington Man Killed by Police Sniper is Awarded $15 million

In an internal review conducted after Thomas’ death, Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist decided that police acted lawfully. The sniper, Brian Markert, “an expert marksman, did what was necessary to protect a child,” Lindquist stated in his findings.

The federal jury, in contrast, singled out the Fife and Lakewood police departments and the sniper along with two other officers as principally responsible for the use of excessive force. The operation was headed by officers from the Lakewood department, but Fife officers also participated in the takedown.

According to a breakdown released by the court, the jury assessed $3 million in punitive damages against SWAT commander and Lakewood Police Chief Mike Zaro; $2 million against the sniper, Markert, a Lakewood sergeant; and $1.5 million against Mike Wiley, a SWAT team commander also from the Lakewood department.

In addition to that $6.5 million, the jury imposed damages on the Lakewood and Fife police departments, awarding $1.4 million in compensatory damages to each of Thomas’s parents, $1.8 million to his estate, and $4 million to his son.

In court documents, Thomas family attorneys said the incident was “steeped in race,” noting that the officers most responsible were white. Thomas’ father, Fred Thomas, who the jury also found was wrongly arrested that May 23, 2013, as he tried to help his son, had said all along that his son’s death would be added to the roster of unarmed black Americans wrongly killed by police.

Court testimony suggested police had their minds made up about Thomas, who they said had a conviction for a drive-by shooting. At an earlier hearing before the trial, Thomas’ estranged wife said she’d informed officers that he was unarmed. According to testimony at that pretrial hearing, Wiley was quoted as saying at the scene: “Baby’s momma [says] ‘No he ain’t got no gun, blah blah blah.’ I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that and found weapons.”

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 2682 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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  • dilbert

    Sweet!

  • Wendy Colby

    Another murder.”Give us the boy and nobody gets hurt” BS If you are having a fight with a loved one before you call police decide if you want them dead or not cuz that’s what’s coming.

    • crazytrain2

      I don’t get why you, or anyone else says things like this. Police handle thousands of domestic calls every day, and very rarely does something like this happen. In those thousands of domestic calls every day, almost all are resolved peacefully, even when the result is an arrest. Occasionally, there is force involved if the arrestee resists, but it is usually mild force being utilized. These calls can get ugly very quickly, and sometimes, if given the opportunity, you will have to deal with an armed suspect, which obviously complicates matters.

      But my point is that very rarely, the suspect is seriously wounded or killed. So suggesting that calling the police equates killing that person is a ridiculously false notion.

      • Liz O’neill

        you obviously haven’t done your homework, according to statistics, police REGULARLY kill the person who has called 911 for help, don’t take my word for it, look it up, or ask the family of the austrailian lady murdered just 2 day ago after calling the cops about a prowler, she went to the drivers window to speak to the cop and he shot her dead before she got a chance to speak. the lady was in her pyjamas and was I million% innocent of any wrong doing.

        • crazytrain2

          I am not saying that it does not happen. But to say it “regularly” happens is ridiculous. As I said, US cops respond to thousands of domestic violence calls per day. I could not find any exact numbers in that, but I did a few searches for various cities, and Orlando for example, has over 3000 calls per year, which breaks down to around 8 calls per day. However, NYC has 700 domestic violence calls per day. I stopped after that search because it is easy to justify my “thousands per day” estimate. So if what you are alleging is correct, would police not be shooting a large number of people per day? But in the entire country, using an average of 1,200 per year, US police kill about 3 people per day, give or take. So your claim that “police regularly kill the person calling 911” is shot to shit, so to say.

  • crazytrain2

    Million dollar shot,eh? More like 15 million dollar shot. Why would they take the shot? Why would they take the shot while he still held the child? Just stupid.

  • Nancy Castillo

    Never call the cops on people you love!

  • Zeconte

    Well, thanks for allowing pop-ups to make this a site I refuse to visit anymore.