Federal judge dismisses family’s lawsuit in fatal police shooting of Lukus Glenn

A federal judge has ruled that two Washington County sheriff’s deputies acted reasonably and did not violate the civil rights of 18-year-old Lukus Glenn, when they fatally shot the teenager outside his parents’ home in Tigard in September 2006.

Lukus Glenn

Lukus Glenn

“There is much to lament in this case,” wrote Judge Michael Mosman in his June 8 ruling in favor of Washington County’s motion for summary judgment.

“A young man’s life cut short; a loving mother’s cry for help transmogrified into a deadly encounter with the police; officers left with the haunting realization that they shot a man — almost a boy — in front of his family.”

But the court is not “a sort of Super Commissioner, evaluating tactical decisions on the street from the quiet confines of the courtroom” and the officers reasonably believed they had to use deadly force to prevent Glenn, who was holding a knife, from hurting someone, the judge said.

The attorneys for Glenn’s parents, who filed the wrongful death lawsuit, have asked the judge to reconsider his decision.

In filings, they said the judge relied on inaccurate statements that are not part of the case — including an alleged threat that Glenn made against his grandmother. The information was part of a declaration from other defendants who have since been dismissed from the case. Glenn’s family never had an opportunity to address the erroneous statements, the motion says.

Glenn, 18, was drunk, armed with a knife and suicidal when sheriff’s deputies, including Mikhail Gerba and Tim Mateski, responded to a 9-1-1 call. He also had held the knife to his own throat, as well as threatened his family, witnesses said.

After a Tigard police officer shot him with beanbags, Glenn turned away from the officers and took a step or two toward his parents and grandmother’s house, court documents state. Two officers then opened fire, striking him eight times. He died outside the house.

The shooting came just a few weeks before another Washington County sheriff’s deputy fatally shot Jordan Case, an unarmed 20-year-old who was high on mushrooms. A wrongful death suit in that shooting ended in a hung jury earlier this year.

“Despite the way litigation tends to harden people’s positions, it is to be hoped that the law enforcement agencies involved ponder the events of September 16, 2006, with the goal of a better outcome the next time they face a suicidal young man in the dark,” the judge said.

More about Lukus Glenn – What Happened to Lukus Glenn
READ – Estate of Lukus Glenn v Washington County, order of Judge Michael Mosman, June 8, 2010 (PDF)