SEATTLE - The family of a Puyallup man mistakenly shot and killed by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies during a hostage situation said they are suing police as a way to find out what really happened.
Winkler's mother, Lisa Ostergren, and his family's attorney, Sim Osborn, spoke about their efforts to hold the department accountable for its actions at a news conference Tuesday.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has already admitted its deputies made a mistake when they shot and killed 30-year-old John Winkler.
West Hollywood sheriff's deputies were responding to a knife attack at an apartment complex on April 7.
Winkler was one of three men who was being held hostage by a man with a knife.
“John Winkler was a hero who was a hostage, and he saved his friend,” said Osborn. “We intend to uncover the truth.”
Osborn said Winkler rescued his friend, who had been stabbed, by getting him out the door. As they headed toward police, Winkler’s friend was first shot in the leg by deputies and then the fatal shots were fired at Winkler.
It wasn't until deputies went into the apartment that they found the suspect, Alex McDonald, who is also from the Puget Sound area.
Police said McDonald had been choking another man with a large knife.
Winkler had moved to Los Angeles six months earlier to pursue a career as a TV producer.
His family in the South Sound shared their anger with KIRO 7 shortly after his death.
"By God, the boy gets gunned down, OK? And it was no fault of his own other than he was trying to help someone,” said the victims’ uncle, Lee Winkler.
The victim’s mother wept as she spoke about her son Tuesday.
“Our family wants to find out the truth of what happened that night and want those officers to be held accountable for what they’ve done,” said Ostergren. “It never should have happened … words really can’t express how devastated we really are.”
Ostergren said she tries to be strong but cries at night, can’t sleep and has nightmares about what happened to her son.