Police Abuse

Cops Shoot Man in Bed, Shooting Ruled Justified: 'I thought he was trying to kill us, there is no greater level of threat'

Same stories, shifted settings


shot by cops
KING5 screencap

Dustin Theoharis, who has had 12 surgeries since police shot him 16 times in 2011, is suing the Washington Department of Corrections for its involvement after agreeing to a $3 million settlement from King County in lieu of litigation. Both the King County Sheriff's Office and the Washington DOC previously ruled the shooting justified, and both officers involved appear to remain employed. Via KING5, Seattle's NBC affiliate:

Cole Harrison, who was at the house, described it this way:  "They (the officers) rushed into that room like they were going to get somebody.  I mean they rushed down there and then all of a sudden. Boom, boom, boom, boom."

It's estimated that the two officers fired more than 20 bullets; 16 hit Theoharis, who was lying in bed.  The officers said they thought Theoharis was reaching for a gun.  They later told investigators they weren't sure how many bullets they fired.

"I thought he was going to try to kill us, there is no greater level of threat," King County Deputy Aaron Thompson told investigators during an interview months after the shooting.

Theoharis didn't have any weapons, but both the Sheriff's Office and the Department of Corrections ruled the shooting justified and in compliance with policy.

A new civilian watchdog at the Sheriff's Office, meanwhile, released its report on problems with the shooting. Its findings may be shocking but they're unfortunately not surprising: the union contract, for example, allowed a 72 hour delay of any request for a written statement. The police officers involved refused to make

shot a man in bed
KING5 screencap

statements at the scenes, while a written statement came a month later. No one from the internal affairs unit showed up at the shooting, and an investigation wasn't opened until six months later. The Sheriff's Office appeared more concerned in defending its officers than investigating the incident. The report noted that the first responding sergeant was in charge of the crime scene before becoming a supervisor, a neutral party, and finally an advocate for the officer, acting as one of his representatives in an internal affairs interview.

None of these issues are unique to King's County, but unlike your constitutional right to bear arms, national lawmakers aren't likely to be targeting police brutality as a national issue any time soon.

There's a book out about how we got here.

NEXT: Prosecutor: DNA Evidence Links Albert DeSalvo to Boston Strangler Victim

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  1. Dunphy to the rescue?

  2. What, at this point, would be an unjustified shooting?

    1. A cop, in plain clothes and without identifying himself, runs up and shoots in the back of the head a man, walking casually, caught on multiple cameras, in broad daylight, surrounded by other pedestrian witnesses.

      That’s about it.

      1. Why would pedestrian witnesses matter? We know how much they lie, better to take the word of a uniformed government-employed hero.

        And if you play those videos backwards, the man is clearly coming after the hero.


      2. If the cop claims he thought he was reaching for a weapon, I believe that trumps the cameras and the pedestrian witnesses.

      3. If those camera’s are recording off-duty cops, they are obviously illegal and inadmissible in court.

      4. That actually happened. I can’t find the link, but something like ten years ago, a Chicago cop, off duty, had an argument with a woman at a bar, followed her outside as she left, and shot her in the back of the head. IIRC she had rejected his advances.

        Initially he got away with it too, until the press got wind of what happened years after the fact.

      5. If the victim is an elected official, perhaps.

        1. Or an aid to an elected official.

    2. Unjustified? What does that mean?

  3. The cops were in the right for shooting someone for reaching for a non-existent gun, but Zimmerman committed murder by shooting someone who was banging his head on the sidewalk. It makes perfect sense.

    1. As I’ve said multiple times before. If Zimmerman is found guilty, it’s going to raise a lot of questions about a lot of police shootings in the future.

      Of course, I mean it should raise a lot of questions, but I’m sure the media will not grok the ironies.

      1. Even if he isn’t convicted — I don’t think he will be — it raises the question of why more cops aren’t sitting in his chair for far, far more egregious actions.

        1. I want to know why people are going to riot over this and not over the hundreds of police overreactions that occur daily.

          1. Riot over a police act and they might shoot you – riot over this and the DoJ might have a liaison officer escort you to the riot.

    2. Yeah, if Zimmerman had been a cop, there never would have been a trial.

      1. If Zimmerman had been a cop with cop training, I’m not so sure Martin would have gotten the best of him.

        1. So Zimmerman would have bravely fought Martin hand-to-hand – like the cops in this case?

          1. I don’t think someone with cop training would have so easily been knocked to the ground and pummeled like the pudgy pussy was. That’s all.

            1. And I’m not saying someone with cop training would have boxed with the kid either. More like Martin would have received a debilitating punch to the face followed with a gun pressed to the side of his head and an plea for an excuse to pull the trigger.

              1. You realize you are posting this under an article about cops shooting an unarmed guy in bed 16 times?

                1. Oh, am I breaking your rules? I’m sooooo fucking sorry, Drake. Go have a cake.

                  1. I just find it an odd place to describe the ninja fighting skills of cops.

          2. Yeah, I kind of doubt it. Cops have been known to shoot people who were unarmed. His cop training would have just told him to claim Martin made a “furtive movement” and he thought he was reaching for a weapon.

            I would hope that had Zimmeman been a cop and in uniform, Martin wouldn’t have been stupid enough to take a swing at him in the first place.

        2. If Zimmerman would have been a cop with cop training:
          a) Martin would be alive, since the cop wouldn’t have gotten out of his car as Martin was not a doughnut.
          b) Martin’s wouldn’t be dead, but his dog would be.
          c) Reason commenters would be wearing hoodies in support of Martin.

        3. If Zimmerman were a trained-police officer, he’d have shot Martin in the back the instance he saw him put his hands in his hoodie pockets.

      2. If Zimmerman had been a cop, half the people around here giving him daily sympathy blowjobs would be talking about how little damage was done to the back of his head from being “slammed” into concrete.

  4. Dunphy? Wanna weigh in here?

  5. Good lord…you light the “Dunphy Signal”, pour gasoline on it set it on fire and then push it off a building into the reason.com com commentariat below!

    I can’t imagine this getting more than one or two comments.


  6. “there is no greater level of threat”

    The unarmed guy in bed? Sounds dangerous.

    1. Imagine if there had been a dog nearby.

    2. He could have been sleeping on a bed made of plastic explosives! He could have killed himself, the heroic officers and innocent bystanders in the area!

    3. “there is no greater level of threat”

      Than gangs of baboons with guns and no oversight? I couldn’t agree more.

    4. That has to be the most jaw dropping thing in the whole story.

      These guys would have dropped dead of fright, 5 seconds into a day of real danger.

      1. I don’t think you’re getting his point. “There is no greater level of threat” means just what it says – any threat whatsoever, real or imagined, slight or severe, is to be met with overwhelming lethal force. Whether it’s a guy lying in bed that you only think might have a weapon and might use it against you or a pack of ninja robot assassins are advancing upon you firing M-249’s – it’s all the same threat level.

        That mindset and justification is
        what’s scary. It’s literally ‘shoot first and ask questions later’.

  7. And further, if procedures were followed, but then procedures were changed in response to the shooting, then… I don’t even know what to say at this point.

    1. Hey those are the best, most thoughtful and reasonable procedures conceivable…until we need new procedures!

      At what point do the multi-million dollar payments start to “hamper” the financial activities of a city?

      1. I doubt $20 million will hurt them badly, and even if it does, well politicians will just say “we need to raise taxes otherwise we’ll have no police and anarchy!”.

        I hate humanity sometimes.

        1. Sometimes….?

        2. See Chicago’s level of fiscal tolerance of paying those the police unjustly beat, shoot, kill.

          1. Prefer not to have an aneurysm today.

    2. SS gonna use the SS defense (only following procedures/orders).

  8. King’s County

    It’s King County. Kings County is Brooklyn, NY.

    And the King County Sheriff’s Dept. is corrupt and disgusting as hell.

  9. the union contract, for example, allowed a 72 hour delay of any request for a written statement

    It takes time to consult lawyers, concoct lies, and destroy evidence.

  10. Right in Dunphy’s back yard. Remember this article the next time that jackass start’s going off about how wonderful and free it is living in Washington and how much he and his colleagues became cops because, gosh darn it, they love people so much. I guess they love ’em to death.

    1. I guess they love to shoot em’ to death


    2. Dunphy probably counts this incident as “some of his friends were attacked by a guy with a gun”

  11. Wait, wait, they put sixteen rounds in an unarmed, prone (possibly sleeping) man, and he survived?

    While I admit that 80% hit rate is up from normal police marksmanship, I’m pretty sure the root cause of their inability to hit anything is their inability to stop and think before firing. Of course, if they thought first, there would be fewer shootings.

    1. Not a gun person but how many bullets does a officer’s gun hold?

      1. Anywhere from 5 to 30 depending on the model (including longarms there)

        For sidearms it’s in the range of 13-17 rounds on average.

        1. Guess we found out why cops need all those “extra”(7) bullets for.

      2. Depends on the gun. Anywhere from 10 to 16 or 17, potentially.

    2. He was in bed. They had an 80% hit rate from 10 feet away.

      1. Or in other words, they missed a stationary, prone person 10 feet away 20% of the time.

    3. Cops that think aren’t the ones that go home at night.

    4. Actually, I would say that 80% hit rate in this case would seem to indicate, at least circumstantially, that they weren’t really in fear of their lives. Since the excuse so often thrown out for their normally shitty marksmanship is adrenaline and fear for their lives, then the fact that they were fucking Wyatt Earp all of a sudden in this case would seem to imply that they were relatively calm and not fearful at all, wouldn’t it?

  12. Back in the day, cops needed to carry a “drop piece” in case they fucked up and shot an unarmed man.

    Now they no longer have to do that.

    They just have to say they thought the guy maybe was armed.

    So things are getting better, because cops illegally plant fewer “drop pieces” now. Amirite?

  13. “It’s estimated that the two officers fired more than 20 bullets…”

    What? They can’t count?

    Also, it’s worth noting the victim of these criminals was neither armed or wanted for a crime. Otherwise, naive readers might presume that the criminals had some reasonable justification for their attempted homicide.

    1. Seriously.

      In the Army someone has to sign out ammo for training, pick up all th brass, have the can weighed to make sure all the ammo is accounted for and if it is not, there is an investigation. But be a cop and shoot someone and no one knows how much ammo was used. FFS.

  14. Obviously, this is justified. I mean, he could have gotten out of bed, walked to wherever his gun was, and shot every one of those cops. Stupid libertarian anarchists hating our heroes in blue.

  15. Threats were assessed. Shots were fired. Statements were delayed. Reports were written. Investigations were done. Shootings were justified. Surgeries were performed. Settlements were reached. Taxes were raised.

    And nothing else happened.

  16. The police officers involved refused to make statements at the scenes, while a written statement came a month later.

    But talking to cops at the scene is the only way to show that your statement is credible. You should always talk to cops right away. Didn’t I hear that somewhere?

    1. In other words, even cops know never to talk to the fucking cops.

  17. I wish I’d been in the frame of mind to initially think “police shot him 16 times in 2011” referred to 16 separate incidents. What would you have thought then?

  18. This particular individual was in a dark room, hiding under cover, with some sort of weapon sticking up around his midsection; so we shot him 50 times because we are brave and smart.

  19. Sounds like Kings County has some criminals on its police force. Not convicted criminals, perhaps, but criminals in mind, body, and intent. They are a liability to the force and should be relieved of duty indefinitely.

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