Dustin Theoharis was shot by the police 16 times, but he’s not all that bitter about it.
“It’s a tough job they have to do,” he told the The Seattle Times. “Sometimes they make mistakes.”
Theoharis was taking a nap in his rented room at a friend’s house in Auburn, Washington, on Feb. 11, 2012. Sheriff's Deputy Aaron Thompson and Corrections Officer Kristopher Rongen went to the home to serve an arrest warrant for someone else, but they woke Theoharis up from his nap. They asked him for identification, and then shot him when he reached for it. They later claimed they thought he was reaching for a weapon.
Theoharis was riddled with bullets. He was struck in the jaw, both upper arms, both lower arms, his wrist, his hand, his shoulder, his abdomen and both legs. He was so badly injured, it’s unlikely he’ll ever work again.
In 2013, King County settled with Theoharis and awarded him $3 million after Sheriff John Urquhart apologized to him. Last month, the state paid him $2.5 million after a judge determined the case should be brought before a jury and pointed out that the officers gave conflicting statements about the shooting. Theoharis was unarmed.
Theoharis is using the $5.5 million from the settlements to pay off his legal and medical bills. Since he can’t return to his job as a refrigeration mechanic, he’s cautious with his money.
“If I’m careful and invest wisely, I can probably live comfortably for the rest of my life,” he said.
Despite his experiences, or perhaps because of them, he doesn't want to speculate about other police shootings.
“You have to look at them case by case,” he said. “I don’t think what they did to me was intentionally malicious, but it was still a mistake.”
He added, “I know I was lucky, but this isn’t something I’m proud of and it’s not something I enjoyed going through.”
Source: The Seattle Times
Photo Credit: Lindsey Wasson/The Seattle Times