County to pay $1.9 million over Everett man’s fatal shooting by deputy

A Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy shot and killed Ryan Hemmingson during a welfare check in 2019. He was 44.

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EVERETT — Snohomish County agreed last week to pay $1.9 million to the family of a man killed by a sheriff’s deputy during a welfare check in 2019.

Filed in federal court Friday, the settlement in the death of Ryan Hemmingson, 44, is for $1,937,500. It adds to a growing list of $1 million-plus settlements in recent years to resolve lawsuits involving Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies’ use of force.

In late 2021, the county agreed to pay $1.75 million to the family of Cecil Lacy Jr., a Tulalip tribal member who died after a struggle with police. Lacy’s last words were, “I can’t breathe.”

In early 2020, the county paid $1 million to the family of Nickolas Peters, a 24-year-old Edmonds man shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy after a car chase.

Together, those three settlements total $4.65 million paid out in the past few years to families killed by Snohomish County deputies.

Deputy Anthony Zayas shot and killed Hemmingson at an apartment south of Everett in November 2019. The Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team, a task force of detectives assigned to look into police use of potentially fatal force, investigated the case. SMART found Hemmingson was drunk, seemed to be suicidal and appeared to be moving at them with a knife.

A lawsuit brought by Hemmingson’s wife, Valerie Egleston, in U.S. District Court in Seattle described the deputies’ actions on that night as “negligent, reckless, outrageous, and deliberately indifferent to Mr. Hemmingson’s civil rights.” Snohomish County and half a dozen deputies were named as defendants. Ty Trenary was the sheriff at the time of Hemmingson’s death.

Snohomish County Prosecutor Jason Cummings declined to comment.

As is standard, the settlement notes, “the payment made and settlement reached are not to be construed as an admission of liability or wrongdoing.”

Egleston was represented by Tom Mumford, of the Bellingham-based Buri Funston Mumford & Furlong law firm. In an interview Thursday morning, Mumford said his client is satisfied with the settlement.

“She’s really glad to have closure, finally,” the attorney told The Daily Herald, “and an acknowledgment of her loss.”

Mumford said Hemmingson’s wife hopes this raises awareness about the need for better deescalation training for police to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

‘You’re not in trouble’

On the morning of Nov. 9, 2019, Hemmingson and his wife of seven months went out for breakfast before coming back to watch football, she told SMART investigators. They talked about buying a new home.

“Ryan finally had a good day,” the wife said, according to the SMART report.

But that night, after a trip to the Tulalip Resort Casino, Hemmingson got angry. His wife hid his keys.

The wife texted her son that she needed help.

Eventually, Hemmingson sat next to his wife on the bed, grabbed a knife from an end table and stabbed himself in the side, she told investigators.

He yelled at her and her son to leave. They left.

Around 7:45 p.m., they called 911.

A half-dozen sheriff’s deputies arrived a few minutes later at the apartment in the 100 block of 124th Street SE, according to the lawsuit against the county. Hemmingson’s stepson reportedly asked them not to storm into the house. He urged them to deescalate the situation, the complaint said.

“He was rebuffed and told to stay out of the way,” the lawsuit alleged.

A deputy knocked on the door and announced himself.

“Police!” the deputy said, according to SMART documents. “Ryan, if you’re in there call out, you’re not in trouble.”

When Hemmingson didn’t respond the deputy opened the unlocked door. Other deputies stood nearby, pistols drawn, according to the SMART report.

A deputy told detectives he called out to Hemmingson a few more times, telling him to come out with nothing in his hands.

Hemmingson emerged and walked toward the deputies at a “brisk pace,” his hand behind his back, as if hiding something, deputies told investigators. They again reportedly told him to show his hands.

At that point, a deputy shot Hemmingson with the pepper ball gun five to 10 times in the torso, yet he seemed unfazed, deputies said.

Zayas shot with his handgun from about 10 to 15 feet away. Hemmingson, hit three times, fell about 5 feet away from the door where the deputies stood. They again told him to show his hands, police reported.

“I’m trying,” Hemmingson replied.

Paramedics took Hemmingson to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. He died at 8:30 p.m., less than an hour after his family called 911, according to the lawsuit.

Deputies told investigators they never saw a knife during the encounter. They did see a closed folding knife under Hemmingson after he was shot.

Zayas resigned from the sheriff’s office after he was accused of sexual contact with a teenage girl. In 2021, a Snohomish County Superior Court jury acquitted him of the charges after he claimed he thought the girl was an adult.

The settlement was first reported by The Seattle Times.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439;; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

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