Home Assault and Battery Shot Whatcom County sheriff’s deputies update civil lawsuit

Shot Whatcom County sheriff’s deputies update civil lawsuit

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The two Whatcom County Sheriff’s deputies who were shot in the face while responding to a neighborhood dispute in Peaceful Valley in February have updated their civil lawsuit against the man who is accused of shooting them, alleging the man acted recklessly with a shotgun.

The two deputies, Jason Thompson and Ryan Rathbun, and Thompson’s wife, filed a civil lawsuit March 1 in Whatcom County Superior Court against Joel Berck Young of Maple Falls. The deputies’ updated complaint filed Thursday, July 14, accuses Young of assault and battery, outrage and emotional distress, and negligence and reckless conduct with a firearm, according to court records.

The lawsuit also asks for a prejudgment writ of attachment against Young’s property. A writ of attachment means a lien can be placed against your real estate or your property can be seized and held until the court decides the lawsuit, according to state law.

The deputies are seeking special damages in an amount to be determined by a jury, general damages of no less than $100,000 and prejudgment interest on liquidated damages. They are also seeking a prejudgment writ of attachment of no less than $1 million, court records show.

Young was criminally charged Feb. 17 in Superior Court with two counts of first-degree attempted murder, one count of first-degree assault while armed with a firearm, one count of second-degree assault while armed with a firearm, one count of felony harassment, and six counts of reckless endangerment, according to court records.

Young pleaded not guilty to the charges Feb. 18 and his jury trial has tentatively been scheduled for Aug. 22.

Young is currently incarcerated in the Skagit County Community Justice Center in lieu of $5 million bail, court and jail records show.

Since the shooting, the deputies and sheriff’s office have received an outpouring of community support, including monetary donations and donated trauma kits, according to previous reporting in The Bellingham Herald.

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Randy Sutton from The Wounded Blue, left, visits with Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office deputies Jason Thompson, center, and Ryan Rathbun in a photo posted to Facebook on Friday, Feb. 25. Thompson and Rathbun suffered facial wounds from a 12-gauge shotgun blast as they responded to a neighbor dispute on Thursday, Feb. 11, near Maple Valley in Whatcom County. Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

The civil lawsuit states that Thompson and Rathbun have already suffered damages in excess of $100,000. Both Thompson and Rathbun suffered physical injuries to their faces, as well as psychological and emotional injuries, and have required ongoing medical care, the civil court records state.

While Young and his attorneys may try to claim that Young’s intoxication at the time of the incident may impair the legal validity of his intentional conduct, the deputies’ attorneys argue that Young’s acts still constitute a grossly negligent and reckless use of a shotgun, which caused injuries to Thompson and Rathbun, records show.

“Defendant Young’s hateful ambush of Plaintiff Deputies Rathbun and Thompson was so outrageous in character and extreme in degree, to be beyond all bounds of decency, and are (to) be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community,” the deputies’ lawsuit states.

Young has not yet filed a response to the civil complaint, according to Michael Sanders, one of Young’s attorneys for his civil case.

A writ of attachment seeking a lien or seizure of Young’s property requires a separate petition to be filed in court, but the deputies’ attorneys have not yet done so, Sanders said.

Sanders declined to provide comment on the civil suit.

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The two Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office deputies who were shot in the face while responding to a call in the Peaceful Valley neighborhood announced Friday, March 4, in Seattle that they are bringing a civil lawsuit against the man who is charged with shooting them. Pictured at the press conference in Seattle, from left are, Tawsha Thompson, Deputy John Thompson, attorney Daniel Horne, Deputy Ryan Rathbun and Jessica Lawson. Campiche Andrews Horne PLLC Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Reporter Denver Pratt joined The Bellingham Herald in 2017 and covers courts and criminal and social justice. She has worked in Montana, Florida and Virginia.

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