SEATTLE — The family of a teenager killed in 2020 during Seattle’s Capitol Hill Occupied Protest, or CHOP, is taking legal action against the City of Seattle. They believe the city could have prevented the death of their son.
"I think we have a big puzzle here; I think there's a lot of pieces and they need to be put together," said Evan Oshan during a press conference on Tuesday
Oshan is the attorney representing Antonio Mays Jr.’s family. Mays Jr. was the 16-year-old shot multiple times while inside a white jeep, during protests on June 29, 2020.
"Antonio came up here to participate in the civil rights movement,” said Oshan.
In a statement, Oshan also said, "The abandonment of the east precinct and the government directive to not allow first responders to do their job led to the predictable and preventable death of Antonio Mays Jr."
On behalf of the family, Oshan filed a tort claim against the City of Seattle, King County and the state of Washington, claiming its leaders aided and abetted the chaos.
“To figure out what really happened here, to figure out why a police precinct was essentially walked away from, why the safety of the citizens of Seattle were put at risk," said Oshan.
Right now, the family is not asking for any monetary compensation. Two years after the incident, no one has been charged in connection to May’s death. A spokesperson with the Seattle Police Department said it’s still an active and ongoing investigation.
"CHOP was a colossal screw up for the city,” said Mark Lindquist of Herrmann Law Group. “This lawsuit is one of many."
Lindquist is an attorney representing the family of Horace Lorenzo Anderson, who was killed just days before the death of Mays. He said the city does have a plausible general defense.
"The city's going to argue that this was a murder that we couldn't prevent, we're not responsible for the criminal acts of third parties," said Lindquist, former district attorney for Pierce County.
He also said CHOP is a unique situation, and is confident the court will make an exception to the general rule.
"This city does not want any of these cases in front of a jury, therefore I expect they're going to play out some of their legal defenses, and in the end they ought to settle these cases," said Lindquist.
The mayor's office sent KING 5 an emailed statement that said, in part:
“The death of a child from gun violence is a tragedy that no family should have to endure. Mayor Harrell trusts that the City will respond to the claim and any related litigation in an appropriate manner.”
A spokesperson with King County also emailed KING 5 a statement:
“King County offers its sincere condolences to the family of Antonio Mays, Jr. No family should have to face the loss of their 16-year-old son. The CHAZ/CHOP was located wholly within the jurisdiction of the City of Seattle. With regard to the events surrounding the death of Antonio Mays, Jr., King County had no role in these events. The claim filed by the family does not point to any action by King County or its employees. A court will ultimately determine the merits of the families claim, but this litigation should not involve King County.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson with the governor’s office said they didn’t have a chance to review this litigation.