Seattle Parks employee shot at work sues city for alleged negligence

SEATTLE -- A Seattle Parks and Recreation worker who was shot at his desk by a fellow employee has sued the city, saying city officials failed to adequately supervise and counsel the shooter who was was clearly mentally unstable.

William Keller suffered serious injuries when he was shot March 8, 2013 at his desk at a Seattle Parks building by co-worker Carolyn "Zoom" Piksa, lawsuit documents show. According to a complaint filed by lawyers on behalf of Keller, Piksa's mental state was well documented in advance of the shooting, and the parks departments failure to act on her health lended to an outcome that could have been prevented.

"(Seattle Parks) nonetheless maintained Ms. Piksa's employment and failed to provide her with appropriate supervision, intervention, counseling and mental health treatment, or alternatively to remove her from employment, leading to the tragic, yet predictable result," the lawsuit alleges.

Piksa, who is undergoing treatment at Western State Hospital, has not yet been arraigned on first-degree assault charges because of her mental state, lawsuit documents show.

Keller is seeking an unknown amount in damages.

According to the lawsuit, Piksa's mental health issues were first documented when she told parks co-workers in late 2012 that her home was broken into and someone had killed her dog, and she carried a butcher knife for her protection.

Co-workers allegedly brought forth more concerns about her behavior to the Seattle Parks and Recreations Human Relations Department, saying she often called co-workers late and night, believing she was being chased around and inquiring about escape plans.

Piksa frequently missed work, the lawsuit alleges, and would disappear for days. When she was at work, she was found talking to herself and staring into space, exhibiting signs of paranoid schizophrenia, the lawsuit alleges.

Leading up to the shooting, Piksa was arrested for unlawful possession of a firearm and failure to stop for police. She was bailed out by her supervisor at the parks department, who took her to a mental health facility for examination. She was prescribed anti-psychotic medicine from a doctor, but discharged from the facility.

"Ms. Piksa's aberrant behavior was observed, noted and discussed by co-workers and management at Parks for months," the documents allege. "Yet no steps were taken to properly intervene and either require appropriate medical and or psychiatric evaluations and treatment, or alternatively, to remove her from the work place."

The city has not yet responded to the lawsuit.