Man shot 16 times sues state corrections officer
In a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, Dustin Theoharis alleges he was wrongfully shot and left permanently disabled during a law-enforcement operation in 2012.
Seattle Times staff reporter
A 30-year-old man who survived a reported 16 gunshot wounds during a law-enforcement operation filed a federal suit Wednesday against a state corrections officer, alleging he was wrongfully shot while unarmed and in bed.
The incident, which occurred in an Auburn-area house on Feb. 11, 2012, led to a settlement, announced in June, under which King County agreed to pay $3 million to the man, Dustin Theoharis, arising from the involvement of a sheriff’s deputy in the shooting.
The deputy, Aaron Thompson, who is not a defendant in the suit, and the corrections officer named in the suit, Kristopher Rongen, went to the house to arrest another man sought for violating his community supervision.
After taking that man into custody, Thompson and Rongen went to a dark bedroom and confronted Theoharis.
Both officers said they identified themselves and gave Theoharis commands he did not comply with, and Theoharis remarked he had guns and appeared to be reaching for one. Theoharis was found, however, not to be armed.
In separate reviews, the Sheriff’s Office and the state Department of Corrections (DOC) found the shooting to be justified, and no criminal charges were filed against Thompson and Rongen.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, alleges Rongen and Thompson, without any reason to believe Theoharis was engaged in illegal activity, “barged” into his “private dwelling,” awakened him and began firing although he did not threaten them in any way.
Rongen, acting in his official capacity, initiated and led the “wrongful acts” that violated Theoharis’ civil and constitutional rights, according to the suit.
Theoharis, a refrigeration mechanic who says he can no longer work, filed suit after failing to reach agreement with the state on a $20 million claim.
His suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, alleging he was left permanently disabled and disfigured after being shot in the torso, legs, arms and face.
A DOC spokesman said the agency does not discuss pending litigation.
Although the sheriff’s office found the shooting to be justified, Sheriff John Urquhart, after taking office in November, found that the operation was flawed and should have been better supervised and planned. He ordered additional training for detectives and deputies and curtailed similar operations with the DOC.
Steve Miletich: 206-464-3302 or firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter @stevemiletich