$15M awarded to family of unarmed black man killed by sniper

SEATTLE (AP) — A federal jury in Seattle has awarded nearly $15 million to the family of an unarmed black man shot and killed by police in front of his young son near Tacoma, finding police had no reason to use deadly force.

The Seattle Times reported Friday (https://goo.gl/fHFgKc ) the award includes $3 million in punitive damages against SWAT commander Mike Zaro during the 2013 standoff; another $1.5 million in punitive damages against Lakewood Officer Michael Wiley, who shot the family dog; and $2 million in punitive damages against Lakewood Sgt. Brian Markert, the sniper who shot Leonard Thomas.

Thomas was shot outside his home in Fife, Washington, when he grabbed for his son.

Officers' attorneys argued Thomas used his son as a bargaining chip and that Markert had no choice but to shoot.

Attorneys for the family said Thomas was about to hand the child over to his grandmother.

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Information from: The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com