Family Claims Police|Killed Son Needlessly

SEATTLE (CN) — An unarmed man involved in a domestic dispute was shot and killed by an overzealous swat team who showed up in an armored vehicle and blew open his back door, the man’s family claims in court.
     Leonard Thomas’s parents, Fredrick and Annalesa Thomas, sued the cities of Fife and Lakewood, the Pierce County Metro SWAT Team and six officers on the team on Monday.
     Thomas’s mother called police to his suburban home on May 23, 2015. She was worried about Thomas’s 4-year-old son, who was with Thomas in the house. As she made the call, her son took the phone from her hand, she says.
     When officers arrived, Thomas told them he had been assaulted by his mother, who “slapped Leonard in the face with an open hand.”
     “Leonard also told police that they were not needed and his son was fine. Leonard held the child up to a window to show them that, at an officer’s request. The defendants received no information that the child had been harmed or was in danger. Leonard never threatened the police, the child, or anyone,” the complaint states.
     Thomas asked the officers to leave but they refused. Then Metro SWAT officers arrived in an armored vehicle that they drove through his fence “without a warrant or legal cause,” according to the complaint.
     Negotiators persuaded Thomas to let his son leave with the boy’s grandmother. When Thomas and his son were on the porch, Officer Michael Zaro ordered an assault on the residence.
     “Defendant Zaro gave the command to blow open the back door of Leonard’s
     House,” the complaint states. “Defendant [Michael] Wiley carried out that command. Neither defendant had legal cause or justification to use or authorize the use of such force. The defendants deliberately and intentionally did not give Leonard or his son any warning or any announcement of the officers’ intentions to enter the house or cause the explosion.”
     Officers then rushed into the home, shot Thomas’s dog, and shot Thomas as he held his son.
     “Lakewood/Metro SWAT officers then pulled Leonard’s son from his arms and took his child away from him.
     “Leonard bled to death from the gunshot wound. It took him several minutes to die, and he was conscious most of the time and suffered physical and emotional pain, predeath terror and fear of his impending death. He knew he was dying and he knew that his greatest fear had been realized: Police had taken his child away from him,” the complaint states.
     Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said in a statement that the shooting was lawful and necessary to protect the life of a child.
     Thomas’s family seeks punitive damages for civil rights violations.
     They are represented by John Connelly Jr., of Tacoma.

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