The family of a man killed by two undercover deputies received $2.5 million from Kings County, Washington. The family did not file a formal lawsuit. Instead, Kings County resolved the claim prior to such a filing.
In November 2019, Anthony Chilcott, 36, stole a Ford Raptor pickup truck from a gas station outside Seattle. The truck contained a poodle named Monkey. The presence of the dog increased public interest in the crime.
A few days later, police spotted Chilcott driving the souped-up vehicle on the back roads of Black Diamond, his hometown. While state troopers initially chased him, a supervisor called off the pursuit because the trooper’s cruisers could not keep up with the turbocharged truck. The supervisor determined that none of the crimes Chilcott could be charged with justified the danger of a police pursuit.
Two plainclothes detectives, George Alvarez and Josh Lerum, went after him in their unmarked SUV. They rammed their vehicle into the truck at an intersection, where it ended up disabled on some boulders.
The detectives used their handguns and a hammer to break the truck’s glass as the unarmed Chilcott attempted to drive off. Both men shot Chilcott in the head at point-blank range. From the report of the ramming to the shooting, the entire incident took less than two minutes.
The deputies alleged they were in fear for their lives when he tried to drive away. However, an internal investigation conducted by King’s County Sheriff’s Department found Alvarez and Lerum needlessly escalated the situation and engaged in questionable tactics.
Monkey was returned to his owner after the shooting.
A Difficult Life
Chilcott’s life was marked by difficulties and loss, but he had no serious criminal history. According to his mother, Monica Crotty, he experienced a chaotic home life as a child and endured "personal trauma," according to his mother, Monica Crotty. She said her son was never violent.
The family was very poor. After his parent’s divorce, Chilcott lived with his father in a home lacking water and electricity. He never graduated from high school.
In 2002, his best friend was shot and killed in a car chase with police. Two years later, his little sister was killed in a motorcycle accident. She was a rear passenger on a motorcycle that ran into a tree during a chase by a deputy. Her loss triggered a further downward spiral for Chilcott and his dad, who battled addiction.
They lost their modest home, where Chilcott lived in the attic. In 2010, Chilcott’s beloved maternal grandmother was murdered by her psychotic son, Chilcott’s uncle. From that point on, he lived primarily on the streets.
There was a history of police encounters. He was arrested for various crimes, including public intoxication, theft, and resisting arrest. He was released from jail just two weeks prior to his death. An autopsy revealed methamphetamine in his system.
A History of Bad Decisions
Alvarez made a string of tactical errors and bad decisions that escalated the situation, according to King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht. This was his fifth shooting during his 21 years with the department, and the fourth instance he which someone died. Policy violations included not announcing to Chilcott that he was a law enforcement officer and a performance level “significantly below” department standards.
Alvarez was fired, and is appealing that decision.