State Watch

Civil lawsuit over fatal shooting in Seattle protest zone dismissed

A civil rights lawsuit filed by the mother of a Seattle man who was killed during last year’s Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) was dismissed by a federal judge on Monday.

U.S. District Judge John Coughenour ruled that Donnitta Sinclair could not show that the city created a dangerous situation for her 19-year-old son Horace Lorenzo Anderson when the police department left their East Precinct during the protest, according to The Seattle Times.

Coughenour’s decision was based in part on a law that states “members of the public have no constitutional right to sue [city officials] who fail to protect them against harm inflicted by a third party,” the Times reported.

“In other words,” the judge wrote, “the City must have known that something was going to happen but chose to ignore the risk and expose plaintiff to it anyway.”

Authorities say Anderson was fatally shot on June 20, 2020, when he ran into 18-year-old Marcel Long, with whom he had a history of animosity. Police said Long allegedly shot Anderson on the sidewalk across from Cal Anderson Park. Long was arrested in July and faces first-degree murder charges. 

Sinclair’s lawsuit alleged that when officers abandoned their precinct during the unrest they invited “lawlessness and … a foreseeable danger,” the Times added.

“First, I’m confident we will prevail on appeal because this decision undermines government accountability and public safety,” Sinclair’s attorney, Mark Lindquist, said in a statement to The Hill. “Secondly, Donita still has state claims in addition to her federal claim. This dismissal is a small skirmish in a bigger battle. We will continue to pursue justice and accountability.”

The Seattle Police Department’s civilian-run Office of Police Accountability found after a monthslong investigation that abandoning the East Precinct was not a violation of any laws or department policies. 

The Hill has reached out to the Seattle City Attorney’s Office for comment. 

–Updated at 1:52 p.m.

Tags civil lawsuits civil unrest Dismissal Donnitta Sinclair Horace Lorenzo Anderson Seattle Seattle Police Department Seattle protests

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