TACOMA, Wash. — Two former Pierce County sheriff’s deputies are suing the county, saying the agency tried to cover up how a man obtained a gun before killing his wife and himself.
In a lawsuit filed March 12, deputies Daniel Bray and Joey Tracy said another deputy let the shooter take the weapon even though he was subject to a protection order just hours before the shooting. Bray and Tracy also say the sheriff’s office forced them out on trumped-up disciplinary charges because they tried to bring attention to the issue, The News Tribune reported.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for wrongful termination, emotional distress and other causes.
Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer rejected the allegations Friday, saying where the shooter got the gun was documented in police reports. He said the pair has been the subject of 10 internal affairs investigations.
“This is one that we’ll go all the way to the mat on if we need to, and we’re considering counter lawsuits,” Troyer said.
The deputies responded in April 2015 when David Annas, 40, fatally shot his wife, shot and injured her friend, then killed himself. His wife, Regina Annas, 33, had filed for a restraining order earlier that day.
Bray and Tracy said they discovered that other deputies had served the protection order hours before the shooting and that one had allowed David Annas to take a loaded gun as he gathered his things.
“Deputies Bray and Tracy knew that the act of allowing the abusive husband to keep his gun was in direct violation of the law, the standard of care, and basic police work,” the lawsuit states. “An officer’s job in serving a protective order is to protect the potential victim by locating and confiscating guns and weapons that belong to the abuser. The husband, in this case, was known to be violent and an existing court order prohibited him from owning or having access to a gun.”
Bray and Tracy say they told supervisors about the violation and allege they were told to keep quiet. When they refused to drop it, they said the sheriff's department started to harass them.
Troyer called that false. He said there were 10 different internal investigations into Bray and Tracy, prompted by fellow deputies and citizens. They are on hold, he said, because Tracy and Bray left the department before the investigations were finished.
In a written statement, Sheriff Paul Pastor said: "The public should know that it is sometimes necessary to remove people from law enforcement who do not conduct themselves in a legal, ethical manner. The public should expect that we do this, and we see it as an important obligation to earn and maintain the trust of the public."
Tracy said in the lawsuit that he suffered "uninvited house visits, intrusive monitoring, false criminal accusations and drummed-up excuses to physically assault and attack him — all designed to intimidate and silence."
He said deputies in body armor came to his house, broke his couch and took some of his belongings for no reason.
A SWAT team arrested him outside his psychologist's office in April 2016 as part of a criminal misconduct case, the lawsuit states. Tracy was charged with custodial sexual misconduct and official misconduct after being accused of forcing a woman to have sex with him in his patrol car.
Prosecutors dropped the sexual misconduct charge in October 2016, citing trouble with the evidence. In January 2017, prosecutors dropped the remaining official misconduct charge when they could no longer find the alleged victim.
The deputies were "medically separated" from the agency in December 2016.
"But for these incidents, they would still be officers today," said attorney Jack Connelly, who also represents the former deputies. "These incidents drove them out, which was the intent of the retaliation."