SALT LAKE CITY (CN) – Police shot a man to death in his apartment after an officer acceded to his request for a “pinkie-swear” promise that they would not harm him, the man’s parents say. The parents of Ross Michael Sullivan, 39, say police broke their promise and Tasered and shot their emotionally troubled son to death after a 90-minute stand-off.
After they killed him, the officers “pulled decedent’s body off the couch, put him on the floor and handcuffed him,” according to the complaint Salt Lake County Court.
His parents sued South Lake City, its Police Department, and the officers involved.
They say their son, who obviously was suffering from a mental or emotional crisis, repeatedly tried to leave his apartment after Sullivan called police to ask for help. The officers also spoke with his girlfriend on the telephone, according to the complaint.
Each time Sullivan tried to leave, officers tried to shoot him with a Taser, which drove him back inside, his parents say.
Finally, after obtaining the “pinkie swear,” Sullivan opened his door, and the officers finally hit him with one prong of the Taser. He retreated again and they “kicked in his door,” according to the complaint. The parents say their son “struck at one of the officers on the arm with a decorative sword, which did not cause injury. Then one of the officers shot Ross Sullivan five times after the decorative sword was knocked from Ross’s hand.” Then they handcuffed his corpse, according to the complaint.
The parents say the police “attempted to justify their conduct by claiming they were in ‘fresh pursuit’ at the time they broke through decedent’s door.”
The parents seek punitive damages for wrongful death, excessive force, cruel and unusual punishment, governmental liability and other charges. They are represented by Clark Newhall.