A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against the King County Sheriff’s Office in Auburn, Washington, following the tragic killing of 58-year-old Karin Riebe by her son, Shawn Riebe. The lawsuit, filed by Karin Riebe’s six siblings, alleges that law enforcement officers failed to arrest Shawn Riebe and confiscate his weapons despite multiple 911 calls reporting a violent disturbance at their home earlier that day.
According to the lawsuit, Karin Riebe had made two 911 calls about her son’s behavior that morning, and neighbors had also called 911 to report the incident. The family claims that officers did not take action due to their protest against a new Washington law governing the permissible use of police force.
The lawsuit argues that law enforcement officers cited the new law as a reason for not intervening, despite the fact that the law did not prohibit officers from responding to mental health crises. The family alleges that the officers’ refusal to enforce domestic violence laws and intervene in the situation resulted in Karin Riebe’s death.
The King County Sheriff’s Office has not yet responded to the allegations made in the lawsuit. It remains to be seen how the court will interpret the events described by the plaintiffs.
It is important to note that some law enforcement officers in Washington claimed confusion about the new law’s requirements. However, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson released a memo on August 2, 2021, clarifying that the law did not restrict officers from responding to mental health crisis situations.
The tragic incident highlights the need for law enforcement agencies and their officers to embrace changes aimed at increasing accountability and reducing fatal interactions with the public. The lawsuit alleges that the law was weaponized by law enforcement to resist police accountability.
The family’s attorney argues that Shawn Riebe’s actions constituted a felony assault, and officers should have treated it as such and made an arrest. The lawsuit claims that the officers’ failure to act allowed a clear and present danger to persist.
The events leading up to Karin Riebe’s death involved multiple 911 calls, a refusal of treatment by her son, and a deputy’s decision not to make contact with Shawn Riebe. The tragic outcome has raised questions about the response to mental health crises and the enforcement of domestic violence laws.