SEATTLE (AP) — The parents of a man killed by Auburn police have filed a federal wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit alleging an officer shot Enosa Strickland Jr. in the back of the head while he was lying in a parking lot.
The lawsuit also contends officer Kenneth Lyman has an extensive history of using force and was carrying an unapproved and “illegal” dagger that he later claimed Strickland had grabbed and refused to drop during a struggle, The Seattle Times reported.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, alleges that Lyman and another officer identified only with the initials “DM,” responded to a domestic disturbance in an apartment parking lot around 1 a.m. on May 20, 2019, where a woman “had apparently rejected Strickland’s romantic overtures.”
“EJ was not engaged in any illegal activities or violating any laws,” according to the complaint. “EJ was unarmed. EJ was not arrested.”
The officers, concerned that Strickland, 26, had had too much to drink, allowed him to call his mother, Kathleen Keliikoa-Strickland. They spoke and she agreed to come pick him up, according to the claim.
The lawsuit alleges that the interaction between the man and the officers became strained and Lyman struck him in the face. According to the lawsuit and the family’s attorney Edward Moore, “No warnings, admonitions or cautions were issued” before Lyman hit Strickland.
The lawsuit alleges the officers then tackled Strickland, who wound up facedown on the ground, and one minute later Lyman shot him. Strickland’s mother and father arrived four minutes later.
Moore said the complaint is based on police reports, witness statements and dash-camera audio and video.
Tiffany Lieu, a spokeswoman for Auburn, said the city was aware of the lawsuit but otherwise declined to comment.
The case was referred for review to Snohomish County, where prosecutors determined Lyman’s actions were legal.
Earlier this year, Auburn resident Peter Manning sued Lyman and the city, alleging the office crashed a SWAT van into Manning’s work truck, injuring him, and then fled the scene. An internal investigation found Lyman guilty of misconduct, according to the Auburn Reporter newspaper, it’s unclear whether he was disciplined.