SEATTLE — The widow and mother of Che Taylor, a man shot and killed by two Seattle police officers in 2016, have filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming police violated his civil rights.
Taylor was shot in February 2016 in North Seattle. Seven of the eight inquest jurors who reviewed the facts of the case last year agreed that officers thought Taylor posed a "threat of death or serious bodily injury" when they shot him. The other juror said it was unknown whether he posed a threat.
The suit names the city of Seattle and Seattle police Officers Michael Spaulding and Scott Miller as defendants. Two other Seattle police officers, Timothy Barnes and Audi Acuesta are also named in the suit, along with any unknown officers also involved.
The plaintiffs, Taylor's widow Brenda Taylor, and his mother, Joyce Dorsey, are seeking compensatory and punitive damages in his death, but do not specify the amount.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court one day before the second anniversary of Taylor's death.
Last year, after reviewing evidence in Taylor's shooting death, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said charges would not be filed against the officers.
Related >> Follow this link to see all the responses from shooting inquest jurors about the death of Che Taylor.
According to court documents, police dashcam video from the police car driven by Barnes and Acuesta shows Spaulding and Miller quickly approaching Taylor’s vehicle with guns drawn.
The lawsuit claims the video shows Taylor trying to comply with their commands by putting his hands in the air and attempting to get on the ground. It states that Spaulding and Miller fired within seconds of approaching Taylor and, after shooting him, officers rolled his body over and handcuffed him.
During the shooting inquest last year, an officer testified that Taylor, a felon who was prohibited from possessing firearms, had a gun on his right hip. A civilian witness who was near Taylor also said he reached for a handgun, according to a police report.
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The inquest jurors unanimously agreed that Spaulding thought Taylor was drawing a handgun from a holster on his right hip. Six jurors said the other officer, Miller, thought Taylor was drawing a handgun. Two said it was unknown.
The lawsuit also states there was a critical lapse in time from when Taylor was shot and when the officers allowed medical crews to evaluate him. Taylor’s family previously said he did not receive aid for seven minutes.
In officer-involved shooting cases, police are trained to handcuff the suspect after the shooting and call for aid, which they did.
The lawsuit states that a white woman in the back seat of Taylor’s car had trouble following police commands and lunged toward the passenger side door when she was told to get out of the car. Police did not shoot at her. The suit also points out that the driver of Taylor’s vehicle was a white male, and officers “paid little to no attention” to his actions when they opened fire. Taylor was black.
During the 2017 inquest, police said Spaulding and Miller were conducting undercover surveillance nearby at the time and were looking for another man wanted for drug warrants.
The officers recognized Taylor, who served time in prison for rape and robbery.
Taylor was taken to Harborview Medical Center where he later died. Investigators said he was carrying suspected crack cocaine and black tar heroin at the time of his death.
See video of the shooting below:
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