Prosecutor: Lakewood SWAT officer justified in shooting man who refused to release son, 4

Staff writerSeptember 4, 2013 

A member of the Metro SWAT team acted within the law when he shot and killed a Fife man who refused to release his 4-year-old son during a standoff with police earlier this year, Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said Wednesday.

Lindquist concluded that Lakewood police officer Brian Markert was justified in shooting Leonard Benjamin Thomas, 30, on May 23.

"Officer Markert, an expert marksman, did what was necessary to protect a child," Lindquist said.

Fife police were called to a home in the 200 block of 55th Avenue East about 10:15 p.m. after Thomas' mother reported her son had assaulted her, was drunk and might be a threat to his son, authorities said.

Officers on the scene requested the Metro SWAT team be dispatched to assist them. That team is made up of officers from a number of jurisdictions, including Lakewood.

Negotiations with Thomas ensued, but his behavior was erratic and at one point he dangled his son from a second-story window, police said. He also entered and exited the house a number of times with the boy either in his arms or held in front of him, authorities said.

Commanders fearful for the boy's safety ultimately decided Thomas should not be allowed to take the boy back into the house anymore and authorized Markert to take his shot. The officer fired once from his rifle, striking Thomas in the pelvis and incapacitating him, police said.

Officers then retrieved the boy and called in aid for Thomas, who later died a the hospital.

Thomas had a history of violence and making threats against law enforcement, authorities said. He also said he had a gun on the night he was shot.


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