SEATTLE — A federal civil-rights lawsuit has been filed against two Kent Police Department officers over the shooting death of a 20-year-old man following a police pursuit in 2017.
The lawsuit alleges the officers violated department policy regarding chases and the use of deadly force by pursuing Giovonn Joseph-McDade after he drove away when police attempted to stop him for driving with an expired registration, The Seattle Times reported.
His parents Sonja Joseph and Giovanni McDade filed the lawsuit last Friday claiming that officers William Davis and Matthew Rausch stopped Joseph-McDade because one of the officers apparently thought he looked suspicious and because the vehicle had an expired registration.
The lawsuit claims Joseph-McDade was unarmed, had committed no other crime and that a passenger was in the vehicle. The officers pursued it and attempted to force the car to spin before trapping it in a cul-de-sac, the lawsuit said.
Davis got out of his patrol car and fired two shots through the other car’s windshield, hitting Joseph-McDade in the chest, the lawsuit said.
The Times reported that Davis said in a statement that the driver of the vehicle “appeared to submit” as Davis approached the car with his gun drawn. But then the driver “accelerated directly at me,” The Times reported.
“I was afraid I was going to be seriously injured or killed by the vehicle,” the Times reported the statement as saying.
The Des Moines Police Department investigated the shooting and later found 5 grams (0.2 ounces) of methamphetamine in Joseph-McDade’s wallet and nearly 70 grams (2.5 ounces) of marijuana in his car.
Video of the collision and the sound of gunshots was captured on a surveillance camera at a nearby home.
Both officers were cleared of wrongdoing in the shooting but the lawsuit claims the officers failed to balance the severity of the traffic violation with the threat that a chase might pose to the public.
A telephone message seeking comment from Kent police was not returned Tuesday.