The City of Seattle has filed notice that it intends to appeal a ruling by a federal judge who said a jury should hear a civil-rights lawsuit filed by a Greenwood man who was unarmed and suicidal when he was shot in the face by a Seattle police officer during a standoff in 2009.
Officers Eugene Schubeck and Don Leslie, the only two defendants left in the case, will ask the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the order by U.S. District Judge Richard Jones, who found evidence that the officers had used excessive force and violated the rights of Nathaniel Caylor when Schubeck shot him from an outdoor landing overlooking Caylor’s patio. The bullet shattered Caylor’s jaw and teeth.
Schubeck said he believed Caylor was going inside the apartment to harm his 20-month-old son. Caylor had locked himself in the apartment with the toddler the morning of May 22, 2009, and called relatives to say he was despondent and suicidal over the recent accidental death of his girlfriend, the child’s mother.
Several police officers responded and a tense standoff ensued. According to court documents, Schubeck announced his concern about the child’s safety and said he was going to shoot Caylor before the man had even come onto the patio. Leslie, the department’s designated Crisis Intervention Officer at the scene, told him, “Don’t miss,” according to sworn depositions in the case.
Caylor was high and abusive when he did appear, and Schubeck fired a single round without warning when he turned to go back inside, according to court documents. Caylor would later say he was going inside to stop the boy from climbing out of a high chair.
Jones concluded that, while Schubeck’s concern about the child’s safety was sincere, “a jury could find that no reasonable officer would have concluded that Mr. Caylor’s son or the officer faced a threat of imminent harm sufficient to justify the use of deadly force.”
The case is being defended by private attorneys. Kimberly Mills, a spokeswoman for Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, said the city has been billed about $250,000 so far for defense costs.