Wrongful death lawsuit filed over SPD officer’s ruse that may have led to suspect’s suicide
In 2018, a suspect in a fender bender in Seattle committed suicide, following a ruse conducted by an SPD officer who had falsely told the man’s friend that a woman was in critical condition from the crash. Now, the man’s mother and friends are filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the city.
The man — who has since been identified as Porter Feller — had fled from the scene of a multi-vehicle accident in May of 2018. Two officers followed up at the home his car was registered to, telling his friend, Maggie Parks, that a victim in the hit-and-run was near death, despite the fact that there no actual injuries reported from the crash. One of the officers remarked to his partner, “it’s a lie, but it’s fun.”
The woman eventually passed the officer’s story on to Feller, who hadn’t recalled hitting anyone. He was also a recovering heroin addict of 20 years, who had reportedly “gotten a new job and was saving money.”
According to testimony in an investigation conducted by Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability, Feller became “increasingly worried about the hit and run and that he believed he might have killed someone,” based on the officer’s fake recounting of the incident to his friend. He later told his friend that he was feeling suicidal, and that it “was related to his concern regarding the hit and run.”
Roughly a month after the crash, Feller committed suicide, leaving a note to his roommate next to money reading, “you keep this.” The OPA’s investigation eventually concluded that the officer involved in the incident had violated SPD policies requiring officers to “strive to be professional,” and to “use discretion” regarding the severity of a crime when conducting a ruse. The officer was suspended for six days.
The wrongful death lawsuit is being filed by Feller’s friend Maggie Parks, his mother Renee Thomas, and his friend Amy Marderosian, who had been the first to discover Feller’s body. A report from The Seattle Times notes that the lawsuit itself does not specify an exact dollar amount, but a previous notice filed with the city asked for $4 million.