Seattle Sued Over Protest Zone Death

The family of a man killed in Seattle’s CHOP protest zone claims the city failed to provide prompt medical aid.

A sign on a street barricade lists some of the demands of protesters in what has been named the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone in Seattle, June 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

SEATTLE (CN) — The mother of a teenager who was shot and killed in a Seattle neighborhood taken over by protesters has sued the city for failing to provide prompt medical aid to her son.

Lorenzo Anderson, 19, was shot in an area known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest or “CHOP” on June 20, 2020. An ambulance was a block away, but refused to enter the “no-cop” zone, according to the complaint.

CHOP volunteers eventually drove Anderson to a nearby hospital where he later died.

Donnitta Sinclair, Anderson’s mother, said she filed the wrongful death suit because she wants answers about her son’s death.

“Explain to me why they didn’t go in there and help my son,” Sinclair said in a statement.

Demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd this past summer set up the zone around a Seattle police precinct abandoned during clashes.

City officials at first attempted to appease the demonstrators by refusing to intervene. Mayor Jenny Durkan called CHOP a “block party” and “summer of love,” according to the complaint, but officials quickly grew disenchanted as violence increased in the area.

Two people were killed in the protest area and several shootings occurred before CHOP was dismantled in July.

A business surveillance video from the night Anderson visited the zone shows him interacting with Marcel Long. The two had “a history of antagonism for about a year,” according to the complaint.

“Video from a local business shows Long talking to Anderson. When Long pulls a gun, Anderson turns and walks quickly away. Long is momentarily held back by others, but breaks away to run after Anderson. Long catches up to Anderson and shoots him at least four times at approximately 2:19 a.m.,” the complaint says.

CHOP volunteers took Anderson to a medical tent and went to nearby first responders for help, video posted to social media shows.

Ambulance personnel, who were a block and a half away, waited for a “green light” from the Seattle Police Department before entering the zone. But after 20 minutes, frustrated volunteers loaded Anderson in a pickup and drove him to a hospital, the complaint says.

Anderson died shortly after reaching the hospital.

King County charged Long with first-degree murder, though he remains at large.

The complaint says police made public statements claiming CHOP participants prevented first responders from rescuing Anderson, but video evidence shows “CHOP participants were begging city personnel to enter and help.”

The day after Anderson’s death, Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant claimed “there are indications that this may have been a right-wing attack,” and she also blamed “conservative and corporate media outlets” and “Seattle’s establishment Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best” for portraying CHOP as violent.

Anderson had recently graduated from Interagency Academy’s Youth Education Program, an alternative high school in Seattle, at the time of his death.

“Lorenzo’s life matters. Our client deserves to know why the city let her son die,” Sinclair’s attorney Lara Herrmann, of Herrmann Law Group said in a statement.

The complaint says the city’s failure to act “demonstrated deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights a parent has in the companionship of their children” and caused Anderson’s death.

Seattle officials declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing “matters of potential or pending litigation.”

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