Mother of CHOP Shooting Victim Sues Seattle

The mother of a 19-year-old special needs man who was shot in the Seattle CHOP zone last summer, has filed suit against the city of Seattle claiming that medics failure to come to his aid led to his death. Donnitta Sinclair filed suit last week in federal court claiming the intentional and negligent conduct of the city caused the death of her son, Horace Lorenzo Anderson, Jr.

The complaint explains the factual allegations quite well:

  • On or about June 8, 2020, the City abruptly abandoned the East Precinct of the Seattle Police Department in Capitol Hill.
  • Protestors used barriers left behind by police to create a “no-cop” zone in an area known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest or “CHOP.”
  • This decision by the City was well publicized and invited lawlessness and created a foreseeable danger.
  • Mayor Jenny Durkan spun CHOP as a “block party” and “summer of love,” suggesting a visit would be fun and safe.
  • Lorenzo Anderson, the 19-year-old special needs son of the Plaintiff, visited CHOP on or about June 20, 2020. He was shot in CHOP just outside Cal Anderson Park.
  • Seattle Police Department and Seattle Fire Department units were standing by about a block and a half away from where Anderson lay bleeding, but failed to assist because of botched communication between the two City agencies and lack of sufficient planning and preparation.
  • After SPD and SFD failed to assist, CHOP volunteers transported Anderson from CHOP to Harborview Medical Center in a pick-up truck.
  • He died of his wounds at the hospital.
  • Local business owners and others observed CHOP participants carrying guns on public streets and in Cal Anderson Park at all hours.
  • Cal Anderson Park was turned into a massive tent city for CHOP participants and the general public was not allowed to use the park.
  • The City enabled CHOP by providing portable toilets, lighting, and other support, including modifying protocols of SPD and SFD.
  • The City had no effective plan for providing police protection, fire protection, or other emergency services into the surrendered area.
  • Violence, vandalism, open drug use, and a collection of other crimes predictably proliferated in CHOP.
  • Local business owners were threatened with retaliation if they attempted to paint over ubiquitous graffiti.
  • SPD adopted a policy and practice of not entering the area except in the case of life-threatening crimes, and sometimes not even then.
  • CHOP became known as a “no-cop” zone.
  • [T]he Mayor spun CHOP as “a summer of love” and “block party” in an interview with CNN, implying it was fun and safe.
  • City Council Member Kshama Sawant continually framed CHOP as a “peaceful occupation” even after known violence.
  • On or about June 20, Lorenzo Anderson visited CHOP.
  • That same night, Marcel Long visited CHOP.
  • Anderson and Long apparently had a history of antagonism for about a year.
  • Long and others he was with correctly believed CHOP to be a “no-cop” zone.
  • Long was armed with a handgun.
  • Video from a local business shows Long talking to Anderson.
  • When Long pulls a gun, Anderson turns and walks quickly away.
  • Long is momentarily held back by others, but breaks away to run after Anderson.
  • Long catches up to Anderson and shoots him at least four times at approximately 2:19 am.
  • With no assistance in sight from SPD or SFD, CHOP participants carried Anderson to the nearby Rancho Bravo “medical tent” on East Pine Street. He had a pulse when they laid him down on a table.
  • An SFD Medic One ambulance was standing by about a block and a half away from where Anderson lay bleeding.
  • Video circulating on social media shows a man imploring the medics to help Anderson. “You could be saving his life. You could be saving his life right now. Sir, please, explain to me what’s going on. He’s dying. He needs your help….”
  • One of the medical responders says into his radio, “We have a number of citizens who want us into the location. I just want to make sure we’re not cleared to move into the location.”
  • Medic One was apparently waiting for a green light from SPD, but SPD was confused about the location of SFD and medics. Miscommunication between the two agencies caused a delay of approximately 20 minutes.
  • At about 2:35 am, with still no assistance in sight, Anderson was loaded into a civilian pick-up truck by CHOP volunteers. “We saw red lights from the fire department up on Broadway and then, after some time, it became pretty clear the medics weren’t coming in,” said a CHOP volunteer.
  • At about 2:45 am, Anderson arrived at Harborview. He was pronounced dead at 2:53 am.

The perpetrator, Marcel Long, has been charged with first degree murder, but he remains at large. The complaint alleges two counts, one a federal count under 42 USC §1983 for deprivation of life without due process under the 14th Amendment due to the city’s deliberate indifference, and the second alleging negligence.

Here is a copy of the complaint.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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