Former Brier mayor talks on officer’s death

BRIER – Ex-mayor Gary Starks broke his public silence Thursday by extending his “deepest sympathy” to the family of a Brier police officer who died while responding to a Sept. 12 medical emergency at Starks’ home.

Eddie Thomas, 28, died from natural causes connected to a congenital heart defect. He collapsed while struggling with Starks, who was irrational because of dangerously low blood sugar.

“I regret that I had a hypoglycemic reaction due to my diabetes and I am working with my doctor to prevent this from occurring again, but I am not responsible for the death officer Thomas,” Starks said in a statement released Thursday.

Snohomish County prosecutors on Wednesday announced that Starks will face no charges in the case.

The evidence shows that Starks and Thomas both were facing medical emergencies that night and that Starks did nothing intentional or criminal that night, deputy prosecutor Mark Roe said.

Thomas went alone into Starks’ home after the former mayor’s wife told emergency dispatchers that Starks needed medical attention. Thomas radioed for help and reported a struggle.

When officers arrived, they found Starks in handcuffs and Thomas nearby, unconscious and not breathing. The officer died later at Stevens Hospital in Edmonds.

An autopsy later concluded Thomas’ death was linked to a malformation of a valve in his heart.

In his statement, Starks was critical of the Snohomish County Multi Agency Response Team, the special team of detectives that investigates deaths during police arrests.

His lawyer, Everett defense attorney Mark Mestel, said he understands his client’s concerns.

“I share Gary’s disappointment that it took the police so long to get the file to (Roe) so he could make this determination. Not only did it affect Gary, but I think it also affected Mr. Thomas’ family,” Mestel said.

Roe said the investigation was thorough, and stands as an example of how deaths involving police officers should be investigated.

“The detectives and officers who worked on this case displayed absolutely the highest degree of fairness and professionalism, despite the obvious emotion surrounding Eddie’s death,” the prosecutor said.

Thomas was the first Brier police officer to die in the line of duty.

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