Innocent Seattle man shot 16 times by cops gets $5.5 million

Dustin Theoharis is damned lucky to be alive. In 2012, he was shot 16 times at point-blank range in his own bed by a King County cop and a Washington state corrections officer. He wasn’t a criminal, hadn’t done nothing wrong, the cops busted into the boarding house where he lived looking for someone else.

The two cops, a King County deputy and a state corrections officer, alleged that Theoharis told them he had guns and they thought he was reaching for a gun. That’s almost certainly a lie. Theoharis didn’t have any guns, and why would he tell cops who had just broken into his room and pulled weapons on him that he did? Other people in the house heard no commands that allegedly were given, just bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang, twenty shots in all. The judge didn’t believe the cops, and all the circumstances strongly indicate they lied about what happened to cover up an unjustified shooting. Theoharis said the cops asked him for ID and he was reaching for his wallet when they opened up on him. That’s infinitely more plausible than the cops’ cock-and-bull story.

Why in God’s name the police shot a man lying in his own bed, not visibly in possession of a weapon, 16 times at point-blank range has never been answered. The King County Sheriff and State Department of Corrections claim they reviewed the incident and concluded the cops followed their respective departments’ policies. If so, something is drastically wrong with those policies.

The King County prosecutor twice declined to prosecute the cops. Their employers haven’t disciplined them. In settling Theoharis’ lawsuit, both mewled the customary mealy-mouth horseshit about not admitting responsibility and settling only to resolve litigation. But the fact the county agreed to pay Theoharis $3 million and the state agreed to pay him another $2.5 million speaks far louder than their weasel words.

What’s wrong with their policies, of course, is the new mentality of police and those responsible for supervising them that sanctifies “officer safety” to the point where innocent civilian lives count for nothing. We all want the police to be safe, and to go home at the end of their shifts. But they also signed up for an inherently dangerous job, are supposedly trained to handle potentially dangerous situations with maximum safety to themselves, subjects, and bystanders (which is what Theoharis was), and they are paid to go in harm’s way. Whatever happened to “protect and serve”? When did “me first, and to hell with you” because the new normative standard of policing in America?

Photos: Law-abiding citizen Dustin Theoharis in Harborview’s intensive care unit after being drilled 16 times by trigger-happy cops Aaron Thompson and Kristopher Rongen; and Officer Rongen, who apparently is a former U.W. Huskies football player. A photo of Officer Thompson isn’t available because he “works undercover” (see video).Officer-of-the-Month 


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