Civil suit blames deputies, King County for police killing of 17-year-old boy

SEATTLE – The family of a teenage boy who was shot and killed by police in 2017 has filed suit against the deputies involved and King County itself.

MiChance Dunlap-Gittens was shot and killed outside his mother’s Burien apartment during a police-sting that turned violent.

The department cleared the deputies of wrongdoing but now the boy’s family has filed a wrongful death suit.

“We do want justice, we do want people to be held accountable,” said the boy’s father, Frank Gittens, “And they will be held accountable if it’s the last thing that we do.”

“I’ll never see him grow up and have the family I wanted him to have or get the education I wanted him to have or travel the world like I wanted him to do,” said the boy’s mother, Alexis Dunlap.

According to the lawsuit, MiChance and his friend were duped into selling booze to undercover King County Sheriff’s deputies.

But the sting turned deadly when deputies claimed MiChance and his friend reached for weapons – but today’s lawsuit claims the boys never had a chance to react, and that MiChance was killed by a bullet in the back of his head.

“There’s objective, physical evidence from the crime scene that contradicts the officers’ accounts, but no one ever questions it,” said attorney David Owens during a press conference Thursday.

Law enforcement had been searching for a person they believed killed the son of a Seattle Police officer -- they believed MiChance’s friend was the suspect, but he wasn’t.

“Today we have brought this lawsuit on behalf of both the family of Mr. Gittens but also the community because the issues of this lawsuit are extremely important,” said Owens.

The lawsuit seeks damages against the deputies involved and King County, and it wants KCSO to change policies to keep similar instances from happening again.

Attorneys for the county responded to the lawsuit in an emailed statement that reads in part:

Many of the claims made in the legal complaint filed in federal court are inaccurate, and some of them are simply misleading, but we intend to try this case in the courtroom and not in the media.

The events in question were already examined by an inquest jury of King County residents who heard extensive testimony, including testimony from witnesses who are not KCSO personnel. That jury found that Mr. Dunlap-Gittens raised a firearm in the direction of KCSO detectives.

Under our legal system, it’s easy to make allegations. Proving them is another matter. We ask that all interested people keep an open mind while this case unfolds in court. We will not be making further statements about this case at this time because it is in active litigation.

MiChance’s family says their lawsuit impacts the rest of the community – worrying if nothing changes, more people could be victimized if procedures aren’t changed to prevent a similar incident from happening again.

“The loss of my son is just unimaginable,” said Dunlap. “It didn’t have to happen.”