KIRO NEWSRADIO

Slain King County woman’s family claims in lawsuit police could have prevented shooting

Sep 14, 2023, 5:05 PM | Updated: 5:08 pm

Crime scene...

FILE - Crime scene. (Paul W. Gillespie/Via AP)

(Paul W. Gillespie/Via AP)

The family of a woman shot and killed by her son in 2021 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), saying deputies did not do enough to protect her.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in King County Superior Court, claims the sheriff’s office declined to intervene in the domestic violence situation, citing a law passed earlier that year that places limits on when law enforcement can use force on someone experiencing a mental health crisis.

Karin Riebe, 58, called 911 multiple times on the morning of September 14, 2021, according to the complaint. She reportedly told the dispatcher her son had a gun and was threatening her.

The first 911 call came at 7 a.m. Karin Riebe said Shawn Riebe, 40, was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was “really having issues right now.” She explained Shawn had been up since 2 a.m. and doing “strange things” like rocking back and forth on his bed.

More on crime: Renton man sentenced for bringing explosives to 2020 protest

“Something is wrong, he needs some help,” Riebe told the dispatcher.

Emergency medics came to the home, but Shawn declined treatment, according to the lawsuit.

Around 8 a.m., Karin Riebe called again, this time in tears. She told the dispatcher her son was “sick” and “bipolar manic” and he had gotten out his gun and loaded it, telling her she was not welcome in the home and to get out.

She left the home and met with deputies about a half-block from the house. But according to the claim, they told Karin they could not intervene.

“They, ultimately, told her they couldn’t arrest (Shawn), that they had no probable cause to believe he had committed a crime, and they couldn’t put him on a mental hold,” says Lisa Benedetti, the attorney representing the Riebe estate. “They were not going to detain him, remove him from the house, even though he had threatened her with a deadly weapon.”

The lawsuit alleges one King County sergeant specifically referenced the new law HB 1310, saying “legislative changes were preventing them from getting him help.” The deputies reportedly told Karin to wait and not return home until her son had “cooled down.”

A deputy spoke to Shawn on the phone at length, the suit claims, but never met with him in person. During the call, Shawn denied having suicidal thoughts or plans to hurt anyone.

Around 10:30 a.m. more 911 calls came in from neighbors who reported screaming, yelling, pounding, and things being slammed around at the Riebe home. The lawsuit says Karin was in the garage hiding.

A deputy was dispatched but called off by a supervisor. Deputies spoke to Karin on the phone, where she reportedly told them she wanted them to get Shawn help “even if that means taking him out of here kicking and screaming.”

More on crime: Second suspect arrested in death of Everett teen at bus stop

But Benedetti says the the deputies again told Karin they were not going to make contact “since he had a gun, and this was a mental health situation.” They again advised Karin to “leave the house before Shawn hurts her” and wait until her son had “cooled off.”

Karin returned to the home around 1:30 p.m., where her son was waiting for her. As she attempted to enter the home, he fired 12 times, killing her and her dog. Shawn Riebe then engaged in a seven-hour standoff with law enforcement before he was arrested.

The complaint alleges the deputies had a duty to intervene according to the state of Washington’s domestic violence laws but failed to do so because of the passage of the use-of-force law. “King County deputies ignored their clear duties and instead weaponized HB 1310 as an excuse why they could not detain Shawn. According to Benedetti, “This law became a rallying cry for law enforcement departments around the state to claim their hands were tied in dealing with suspects in mental crisis like Shawn.”

In a statement to KIRO Newsradio, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said “KCSO is unable to comment at this time due to pending litigation.”

KIRO Newsradio

Photo: Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson....

James Lynch

Auburn Officer Jeff Nelson’s fate now in hands of jury

It has been five years since Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson shot and killed 26-year-old Jesse Sarey who was going through a crisis.

5 hours ago

Photo:; At Lakewold Gardens in Lakewood, it is Fairy Fest this weekend....

Paul Holden

Weekend revelry roundup: Summer solstice celebrations, PGA golf and more

Summer is officially here, school is wrapping up and there is lots to do this weekend.

5 hours ago

Edmonds beach...

Ted Buehner

Sunshine, warm temps for Seattle’s summer solstice

The summer solstice, on June 20, will be celebrated across the county with age-old traditions. Seattle is having a parade this weekend.

15 hours ago

Photo: A Juneteenth celebration took place in Tacoma....

James Lynch

Tacoma hosts largest Juneteenth celebration in the state

For the second straight year, what's billed as the largest Juneteenth celebration in Washington was held at Tacoma's Stewart Heights Park.

1 day ago

Photo: A Seattle Post-Intelligencer photo from the collection of the Museum of History & Industry (...

Feliks Banel

Celebrating Juneteenth 2024 and reflecting on local Black history

KIRO Newsradio caught up with Stephanie Johnson-Toliver, president of the Black Heritage Society of Washington, to talk about Juneteenth.

1 day ago

Image: A Pride flag flies under a flag of the United States at Oakland Alameda Coliseum in Oakland,...

Angela Poe Russell

Angela Poe Russell: We need to end the Pride flag debate, take real action

With June being Pride month, there has been debate over the flag and proclamations and what should the government's role be in this.

2 days ago

Slain King County woman’s family claims in lawsuit police could have prevented shooting