Mother of man fatally shot by Federal Way police files lawsuit against city

Suit claims man was experiencing a mental health episode and not a danger to others.

Another lawsuit against the city of Federal Way and several police officers was filed Sunday night by the James Bible Law Group.

Bible, who is also currently representing the Hunter family in their excessive force suit against the city, filed a suit on behalf of Margarita Hernandez whose 19-year-old son Ricardo Hernandez was shot and killed by officers Oct. 8, 2016.

The lawsuit states, “Hernandez was not a danger to others at the time that he was shot six times by the defendant officers.”

Tyler Hemstreet, communications coordinator for the city, said in a statement Tuesday the city will be defending against the newest lawsuit.

“An inquest hearing into this incident was held and the jury unanimously determined that Mr. Hernandez failed to obey verbal commands, that he advanced toward the officers with knives, and that the officers had reason to believe that Mr. Hernandez posed an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury at the time they fired their weapons,” according to the statement.

Police were responding to a domestic violence call from Hernandez’ mother, who told 911 that he was experiencing a mental health episode.

Dispatch also informed the responding officers that the Hernandez family was hiding in one of the rooms in the house with the door closed. They believed that Hernandez was on the other side of the door with knives. Police were able to help all of the family members out of the home.

According to the lawsuit, “the officers were well aware and clearly informed by the Hernandez family that the only person that remained in the home was Ricardo Hernandez.”

Police officers created a perimeter around the home and “had their assault rifles trained at the home,” the court documents continue. “None of the officers what were at the scene had a .40 mm less lethal option at the time the home was surrounded. At no point did any Federal Way Law enforcement officers attempt to contact anymental health professionals … “

One of the officers claimed that Hernandez was standing on the back porch with two to four knives in his hand, and police said they instructed him to put the knives down on the porch. Hernandez put the knives down, the suit contends.

Two of the officers claimed that Hernandez lunged at them with the knives in his hand, however, “the phsyical evidence does not match” these claims, according to the suit. “The physical evidence suggests that Ricardo Hernandez was placing the knives on the porch as instructed and that the majority of his body was still inside the home at the time that the officers began to shoot him,” the suit continues, noting two officers shot him from approximately 23 feet away.

More information will be released when it becomes available.

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