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The city of Poulsbo, Washington, and its police department will pay $2 million to settle a civil-rights lawsuit filed by the family of Stonechild Chiefstick, according to attorneys.
Police shot Chiefstick at a park during the city’s crowded 2019 Independence Day celebration. The lawsuit, relying on video and audio recordings and witness statements, alleged officer Craig Keller shot Chiefstick 12 seconds after arriving to investigate complaints that Chiefstick threatened someone with a screwdriver, The Seattle Times reported.
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The lawsuit, filed last year by Seattle attorney Gabriel Galanda, said the Poulsbo Police Department had been lax in its de-escalation training and that Keller was prone to unnecessary use of force.
The lawsuit alleges negligence, racist policing and excessive force.
Chiefstick, 39, was a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation in Montana, and Galanda said he was raised in Seattle.
“This settlement is part of accountability. It sends a message across this county that law enforcement must prioritize the preservation of life,” said Trishandra Pickup, a Suquamish tribal member and mother to four of Chiefstick’s children.
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The Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office determined the shooting was lawful, and the police department said Keller acted within policy, citing witnesses who said Chiefstick refused to comply with the officer’s orders and lunged at him with the screwdriver.