TACOMA, Wash. -- The family of fallen Tacoma Police Officer Jake Gutierrez filed a wrongful death claim against the city of Tacoma, saying the city could have prevented his death.
According to court documents, the damage claims total $21 million. Gutierrez's three daughters say police had the chance to arrest their father's killer, Bruce Johnson, 15 days earlier when police found him with a shotgun at Tacoma Mall.
Johnson had a warrant for his arrest stemming from a previous assault, according to court documents.
"Instead of arresting him, as they are required to do, per the warrant, not only did they let him go but they gave him back the 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun that was ultimately the weapon Bruce Johnson used to kill Jake Gutierrez," said Cole Douglas, an attorney with Pfau, Cochran, Vertetis, Amala PLLC.
After the mall encounter, officers only filed at 'safety report' about Johnson's behavior. According to Douglas, Gutierrez was not aware of that report.
"If they had done any search on Bruce Johnson, they would've found out that he had a warrant out for his arrest, for an assault several months earlier," said Douglas.
John later shot and killed Gutierrez while he responded to a domestic dispute in late 2016. Now Gutierrez's family says they hope to hold Tacoma Police accountable.
“We`re hoping, if anything, we get out of this is that this just doesn't happen to anybody,” Gutierrez’s daughter Gabriella Cothran said. “Because we will be affected by this forever. And no amount of money will bring back our dad."
A Pierce County Sheriff's Office sniper shot and killed Johnson which ended the 11-hour standoff.