TULALIP — The Sept. 18 death of a Tulalip man during a late-night struggle with law officers was a tragic accident and not a crime, Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe has determined.
Cecil D. Lacy Jr., 50, was a member of the Tulalip Tribes who had worked as a commercial fisherman. He collapsed and died in the 6400 block of Marine Drive. An autopsy determined he suffered a heart attack while struggling with two Tulalip Tribal Police officers and a Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy.
The officers’ actions that night were legally justified and they will face no criminal charges, Roe said in a Thursday letter.
“Cecil Lacy Jr. was a well-known member of the Tulalip Tribes, with many people who loved him. His death was ruled an accident, and in my opinion, that’s exactly what it was,” Roe wrote to two members of the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team.
The cadre of detectives from around the county investigates officer-involved deaths.
The SMART investigation determined the officers were attempting to help Lacy the night he died.
Motorists called 911 to report a man walking in the darkened roadway that winds through the heart of the reservation. The responding officers found Lacy in an apparent state of intoxication, Roe wrote.
Lacy was told that he wasn’t under arrest, but that police needed to make sure he got out of the road and made it home safe. They offered to take him there in a patrol car, but on the condition that Lacy agreed to be handcuffed, the prosecutor wrote.
Lacy initially rejected that idea, saying that he had an injured shoulder. He then suggested that his hands be cuffed in front of him. Officers agreed, Lacy was cuffed, and the interaction was recorded on the officers’ body cameras, Roe wrote
Lacy “was not confrontational. He never assaulted or appeared to be trying to hurt anyone or escape,” the prosecutor wrote. He walked to one of the patrol cars and climbed into the backseat.
“It looked like the officers had successfully defused the situation and that things were going to be fine,” he added.
Then, as the door was being closed, the situation turned.
Lacy reportedly pushed the door back open and climbed out of the car.
In the struggle alongside the road, officers used an electronic stun gun in an attempt to subdue Lacy.
The man collapsed and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
The county medical examiner, Dr. Daniel Selove, later attributed Lacy’s death to a heart attack due to methamphetamine in the man’s system, as well as several other health-related factors. Those include an enlarged heart, obesity, hypertension and mental health issues.
The medical examiner determined the stun gun played no role in Lacy’s death.
Lacy’s family released this statement Friday through their attorney, Gabriel Galanda of the Seattle law firm Galanda Broadman.
“The family continues to suspend judgment about exactly what happened on September 18, 2015,” he wrote. “But they are troubled that in the very few writings we have thus far seen, both the investigators and prosecutor completely gloss over what happened to Cecil during his ‘short’ and fatal ‘struggle’ with law enforcement.
“Their reports are void of any explanation regarding the most critical seconds and moments before Cecil passed. There is much, much more to be learned about exactly how he passed.
“With very heavy hearts, the family remains intent on discovering the true causes of their loved one’s death,” he added.