Deputy uses Taser on man on interstate at night, then he’s hit and killed, lawsuit says

After Brent Thompson was told he was under arrest, he sprinted away from Colorado deputies.

He ran toward Interstate 25 in darkness on Feb. 18, 2023, body camera footage from a Larimer County Sheriff’s Office’s deputy shows.

“Stop, or you’re gonna get tased,” the deputy shouts as he chases after Thompson. “Stop!”

Thompson ignores the deputy’s demands, hopping a guardrail and running on the interstate, the footage shows.

The clicking of a Taser can be heard, and Thompson falls to the ground and lies motionless in the middle of the interstate as headlights approach.

The deputy utters expletives before running to safety, the footage shows.

Moments later, Thompson is hit by an SUV.

Less than 30 seconds had passed since a deputy told Thompson he was under arrest.

Now, more than a year after the 28-year-old’s death and 18th Judicial District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin found no criminal wrongdoing on the part of the deputy following an investigation, Thompson’s parents are suing the deputy who deployed the Taser, according to Ciara Anderson, the family’s attorney.

“Running from the police doesn’t justify a death sentence,” Anderson told McClatchy News.

The wrongful death lawsuit, filed in Larimer County District Court on April 16, argues Thompson’s death was “wholly avoidable” and that the deputy’s use of a Taser was “excessive force” that violates state law.

In an emailed statement to McClatchy News, Sheriff John Feyen said the new litigation does not change the sentiments he’s shared publicly “over the last year and a half.”

“While it’s crucial that we continue evaluating and adjusting as situations evolve, we also have to acknowledge that environmental and human factors (like recognition and reaction time) will have an effect,” Feyen said.

Feyen said the district attorney found the deputy’s actions to be “legally justified as he tried to stop Mr. Thompson from endangering innocent motorists.”

“The deputy was forced to make a choice with no easy answer: act and try to stop the suspect, or stand by passively and simply hope no innocent people got hurt,” Feyen said.

The incident

Last February, Thompson was pulled over while driving on Interstate 25 in Fort Collins, as the car he was driving had expired registration, the sheriff’s office wrote in a July 2023 Facebook post.

When a deputy asked his name, the lawsuit says Thompson replied “Jacob Jones.”

The deputy returned to his car and determined Thompson’s real name, the lawsuit says.

Again, the deputy approached Thompson while he sat in the car and asked him to step out, the lawsuit says.

Thompson complied as the deputy confronted him about the false name to which he again replied his name was “Jacob Jones,” according to the lawsuit.

The deputy said Thompson was under arrest, but Thompson fled toward the interstate, the lawsuit says.

At this point, “despite knowing where he could find Mr. Thompson and arrest him,” the deputy chased after Thompson, the lawsuit says.

As Thompson fled from deputies, running onto the interstate, the lawsuit says the deputy used a Taser for five seconds.

And seconds later, the lawsuit says, Thompson was struck by an SUV.

“(The deputy) knew or should have known that deploying his taser in the middle of the interstate under these conditions would foreseeably cause death or serious bodily injury to Mr. Thompson,” the lawsuit says.

The deputy then approached Thompson lying in the roadway and handcuffed him before dragging him off the interstate to begin CPR, the lawsuit says.

Thompson ultimately died from blunt force trauma, according to the lawsuit.

“My son ended up dead. Murdered,” Thompson’s father, David Thompson, told the Denver Post. “I never thought I would be a parent saying this. You see it on TV and now, believe it or not, here I am.”

Lawsuit seeks justice, family says

After an investigation, the district attorney cleared the deputy of criminal wrongdoing in July, according to Anderson.

As such, Anderson said Thompson’s family felt the only way to seek justice for their son was through a civil lawsuit.

“The internal affairs investigation and the sheriff’s department have made it very clear that there are two sets of standards applied to police and then the general public,” Anderson said.

Anderson said using a Taser on a person “in the middle of an interstate at night” during a nonviolent encounter “is criminal and reprehensible conduct and has no place in law enforcement.”

Thompson’s mother, Karen Kay Thompson, told the Denver Post after he was pulled over by deputies for an expired license plate and ran, he “ended up with a death warrant.”

“The family wants this to never happen again. No other family should have to suffer the way that they’re suffering,” Anderson said. “They want to send a message to law enforcement everywhere that actions have consequences.”

Thompson’s mother said her son, who was “tidy and artistic,” had a “heart of gold,” the Denver Post reported.

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