Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Nov. 30, 2022

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Family of teen killed in CHOP zone: Seattle enabled danger

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SEATTLE (AP) — Two Black teenagers were killed in June 2020 shootings amid Seattle’s racial justice protests and a new tort claim alleges that city leadership should have recognized its failures to provide legally obligated emergency services to protesters demonstrating in the Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone.

If they had, the claim filed Monday says, the death of 16-year-old Antonio Mays Jr. might have been prevented, The Seattle Times and KUOW reported.

It was not until after this incident that the city intervened at the protest zone, closing Cal Anderson Park and arresting more than 40 people. Those moves came after weeks of protest, tear gas assaults by police and the three-week desertion of Seattle’s East Police Precinct.

The tort claim — official notice of an impending lawsuit — was filed with the city clerk’s office by Mays’ family, alleging the government failed him by allowing a “state-created danger.” It does not specify a financial claim.

Horace Lorenzo Anderson Jr. was shot early on June 20, but Fire Department medics and police delayed entering the protest zone. The 19-year-old was taken to a hospital in the back of a pickup truck and pronounced dead.

Just over a week later, Mays Jr. and a 14-year-old boy were shot multiple times while inside a Jeep Cherokee, and police did not arrive at the scene for nearly five hours.

Antonio Mays Sr., said police detectives have been unresponsive about his son’s death and told him the investigation was closed due to insufficient evidence. The city maintains its investigation is ongoing.

“Last thing I heard from them was encouragement not to talk to the media, not to talk to anybody, not to cause any ruckus or fuss or stigma or not to stir anything up and just sit back and be patient and wait,” Mays Sr. said. “But I am the dad, I am the father, I need answers and I need justice.”

A spokesperson for the city declined to comment on the claim Monday.

Multiple lawsuits have been filed over the city’s handling of protests two years ago after the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis.

Seattle last month settled a wrongful-death lawsuit for $500,000 with Anderson’s family. A federal lawsuit by businesses, developers and residents who claimed “extensive harm” by the city’s failure to break up CHOP remains active, although it was denied class-action status.

Seattle also faces lawsuits from protesters who said they were hurt by police, including the family of a then-7-year-old boy who was doused with pepper spray.

Critics additionally cite a lack of transparency regarding Seattle city leadership’s handling of CHOP. Many text messages key officials sent during this period disappeared, including 2,000 messages that could not be retrieved from former Mayor Jenny Durkan’s cellphone. The city recently agreed to settle a lawsuit with The Seattle Times and promised to improve its public records process.

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