Family of ex-Puyallup man killed by Los Angeles deputies files $25M claim

The Seattle TimesApril 29, 2014 

The family of a man originally from Puyallup who was mistakenly shot and killed by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies announced this morning they have filed a $25 million claim against the department.

The family of John Winkler announced the filing of the claim during a news conference this morning. A claim can be a precursor to a lawsuit if it is rejected.

Winkler, 30, a West Hollywood resident, was held captive at knifepoint with two other men inside the suspect’s apartment about 9:30 p.m. April 7 , according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Winkler and one of the men were visiting a friend, who was a roommate of the suspect, identified by the department as Alexander McDonald. McDonald began stabbing the men as deputies arrived.

Responding deputies were directed to an apartment where the suspect with the knife was said to be and told there were only two men in the apartment. Witnesses described the suspect as a white male with a thin build and wearing a black shirt. Deputies announced themselves at the front door but heard no response.

As they continued to contact the people inside, “the apartment door suddenly opened and a male victim came rushing out,” according to a news release. “He was covered in blood and bleeding profusely from the neck.”

Winkler ran out of the door and lunged at the back of the other victim as they both ran directly at the deputies. Three deputies shot at Winkler, and he fell to the ground. The other man was also struck and fell. Winkler was pronounced dead at a hospital.

McDonald was arrested.

The shooting “was a preventable act that robbed a young man of his dreams,” attorney Sim Osborn said during this morning’s news conference. He said Winkler was a hero who was trying to get his injured friend out of the apartment when sheriff’s deputies “shot him dead.”

Winkler’s mother, Lisa Ostergren of Gig Harbor, said she wants the truth of what happened that night to come out in order to spare another family the “roller coaster of emotions” she’s experienced since her son was gunned down.

“We’re all in shock and disbelief. … Words can’t express how devastated we really are,” Ostergren said.

Winkler had moved to California to pursue a career in TV production six months ago and was a production assistant on the show “Tosh.0.”

He attended the Seattle Film Institute, where he was a well-liked, good student, communications director Chris Blanchett said.

In the days after the shooting, Winkler’s family issued a statement through the Seattle law firm of Osborn Machler, but this morning marked the first time his family has spoken at length about the incident.

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