The family of a Roy man fatally shot by a Pierce County sheriff’s deputy has sued on his behalf.
Michael Bourquin, 21, died Feb. 2, 2014, after deputy Chad Helligso fired seven shots at him when Bourquin pepper-sprayed Helligso and another deputy during a Spanaway traffic stop, investigators said.
In her lawsuit against Pierce County and Helligso, Bourquin’s mother, Judy Burch, contends that shooting her son amounted to excessive force, and that she and Bourquin’s two children have suffered as a result of his death.
“Deputy Helligso was aware that his actions violated Mr. Bourquin’s constitutional right to be free from excessive force,” states the suit, which was first filed in Pierce County Superior Court and then moved to U.S. District Court on Feb. 22.
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Bourquin was riding in a pickup near 175th Street South and Pacific Avenue with two other people when Helligso, then a 13-year veteran of the department, pulled the vehicle over.
At the time there was a warrant for Bourquin’s arrest on charges of identity theft, possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver and other alleged crimes.
According to the sheriff’s department, Bourquin fought when Helligso and the other deputy tried to arrest him during the traffic stop. He used the pepper spray and Helligso shot him, the sheriff’s department said.
The second deputy did not fire.
Two people who had been in the truck with Bourquin were questioned and released.
“I think the force was excessive, even if he did shoot the Mace off,” Toni Froehling, Burch’s attorney, told The News Tribune.
The pepper spray in question was bear spray, he clarified.
“What I also question is why you shoot somebody seven times,” Froehling said.
Asked about a knife investigators found on the ground after the shooting, Froehling said it wasn’t clear where it came from, and that Helligso wasn’t aware of it during the altercation.
“When lethal force is being used, they clearly have no idea that knife is there,” he said.
The attorney said Bourquin has two children, a 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter, who are living with his mother.
“Mike’s mom is just destroyed by this thing,” Froehling said.
Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said several months after the shooting that Helligso was justified in firing his weapon, and that the Medical Examiner’s Office found methamphetamine and amphetamine in Bourquin’s system.
“He was uncooperative, fought with us,” Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said. “And he sprayed our guys with pepper spray.”