Wrongful death lawsuit filed against Seattle leaders in fatal protest zone shooting

Wrongful death lawsuit filed against Seattle leaders in fatal protest zone shooting
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A father filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging Seattle city officials acted with "deliberate indifference" to the circumstances that led to his 19-year-old son's death during a Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) over racial injustices last year. 

During the protest on June 20, 2020, Horace Lorenzo Anderson was fatally shot by 18-year-old Marcel Long, with whom he had a history of animosity. Long was arrested in July and faces first-degree murder charges. 

The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court by Horace Anderson and the estate of his slain son, comes after Seattle police abandoned their East Precinct during the protests, according to The Seattle Times

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The case, which names Seattle Mayor Jenny DurkanJenny DurkanEviction ban extended in Seattle Seattle lawmakers approve cut to police department spending Wrongful death lawsuit filed against Seattle leaders in fatal protest zone shooting MORE (D) and Councilmember Kshama Sawant (Socialist Alternative), was filed on Wednesday just two days after a civil rights lawsuit filed by the teenager's mother was dismissed by a federal judge.

In that case, U.S. District Judge John Coughenour based his decision on a law that says "members of the public have no constitutional right to sue [city officials] who fail to protect them against harm inflicted by a third party."

Unlike that case, the new lawsuit relies on state law and adds claims for negligence on the basis of duties that officials owe to their citizens. These state-level laws tend to be more expansive than federal policies, the Times reported.

“Despite having knowledge of exactly what is happening at CHOP by being there every day and in apparently constant contact with area residents and business owners, the City acted with deliberate indifference toward the safety and care of residents and the public,” the lawsuit claims, per the Times.

"We entrust our leaders to protect public safety, and there is no excuse for the willful indifference and pattern of inaction that lead to Lorenzo's wrongful death," attorney Evan Oshan, who filed the lawsuit, said in a statement.

Oshan added in a statement to The Hill that he anticipated the legal process would "open a pandora's box of pure governmental failure."

"Our suit will unmask those using governmental immunity to avoid responsibility. It is not OK to use one's political position to avoid providing basic safety to their constituent citizens," Oshan said.

"The City Attorney's Office will continue to defend the City in this matter," a spokesperson for the Seattle City Attorney's Office said in a statement to The Hill.

A spokesperson for the mayor's office told The Hill they were unable to comment on pending litigation.

The Hill has reached out to Sawant for comment.

— Updated at 5:26 p.m.