Fatal Teen Shooting in Washington Settled For $2.25M

May 8, 2020

King County in Washington has agreed to settle a civil rights lawsuit for $2.25 million, an apology and a sheriff’s promise to pursue a new policy to be named after the teenage victim of a fatal police shooting.

The settlement announced Monday requires Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht to pursue a new policy requiring deputies to use body and dash cameras, The Seattle Times reported.

The mediated agreement follows the death of 17-year-old Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens, who was shot during a 2017 sting operation by King County sheriff’s detectives.

The settlement includes a provision that Johanknecht meet with Dunlap-Gittens’ parents to review a report on the shooting issued by the county’s Office of Law Enforcement Oversight in February, a family attorney said.

In a joint statement announcing the settlement, King County said it “extends its condolences to the Dunlap-Gittens family and apologizes for the loss of life.”

Dunlap-Gittens was a high school senior when he was killed while fleeing from three plainclothes detectives who sprang from an unmarked van in Des Moines, 19 miles (31 kilometres) south of Seattle.

The arrest team mistakenly believed a 16-year-old companion of Dunlap-Gittens had been involved in a hit-and-run accident two days earlier that killed the adopted son of a Seattle police officer.

Dunlap-Gittens’ father, Frank Gittens, said the settlement, including the push for dash and body cameras, is a “major victory and I think Chance will be smiling down on us.”

Efforts to implement dash or body cameras in the King County Sheriff’s Office – one of the largest agencies in the state that does not require video recordings of officers’ actions – would require approval by the King County Police Officers Guild, which has opposed similar reforms.

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