King County Executive Dow Constantine has ordered an inquest into the death of Victor Duffy, who died following a confrontation with Tukwila police at his parents’ home on June 30.
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office has listed the cause of the 25-year-old man’s death as sudden death associated with excited delirium and following physical restraint. The manner of death is listed as undetermined.
King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg recommended the inquest after his office reviewed materials from the Kent Police Department, which conducted the investigation.
Inquests are fact-finding hearings conducted before a six-member jury. They are routinely called to determine the causes and circumstances of any death involving a member of a King County law enforcement agency while in the performance of his or her duties.
Duffy’s family has filed a lawsuit seeking at least $15 million in damages from the city.
Duffy Jr.’s mother, sister and stepfather were inside the house when officers arrived, according to the lawsuit. His mother, Deann Mills, asked her son to put down a golf club he was holding and he did; he also calmly complied with the officers’ orders, the suit says.
Officers asked Mills, her daughter Patrice Brown and Mills’ common-law husband Ronald Fortson to wait outside.
Before leaving, Mills “asked the Tukwila Police officers to refrain from using a Taser on her son as she knew that he would be extremely frightened under the circumstances,” the lawsuit says.
Once outside, Duffy Jr.’s family members heard “the unmistakable crackle of a Taser device” and other sounds of a struggle, according to the suit. Duffy Jr. “ran for his life,” and vaulted full speed off the front porch, fracturing his right leg, the suit says. Despite “his obvious injuries,” the officers again used a Taser on Duffy Jr., it says.
Medics were called and Duffy Jr. was put inside an emergency medical vehicle for about 40 minutes; during that time, his relatives weren’t allowed to see or speak to him, the lawsuit says.
One officer told Mills her son was “sleeping” — but according to the lawsuit, Duffy Jr. “was already dead at this time and the Tukwila Police were concealing this fact from the family.”