MALTBY — Snohomish County will pay $1.5 million to the family of a man killed by sheriff’s deputies in early 2017.
In late April, the County Council approved the settlement for the sister and mother of Alex Dold, a 29-year-old man who deputies tased and beat to death six years ago in a home he shared with his mother near Maltby. Because of this, a judge dismissed the family’s federal lawsuit last week.
This is the fourth settlement of $1 million or more paid to families of men killed by Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies in the past three years.
In January, the county paid $1.9 million to the family of Ryan Hemmingson, who a deputy shot and killed during a welfare check south of Everett.
And 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, the four settlements total more than $6.2 million.
In an email, Dold’s sister Jen wrote: “There is no amount of money in the world that can replace Alex, who was and is a deeply loved brother, son, uncle, nephew, grandson, cousin & friend.”
“This process has been excruciatingly painful, and heartbreaking,” she wrote Wednesday. “After six long years of reliving the day Alex was wrongfully and brutally taken from us, I think we got to our breaking points, and needed to get away from the people that have torn our family and our individual lives apart, so we settled our lawsuit.”
Two deputies responded to the March 2017 call to Dold’s home. The family argued the sheriff’s office sent one who should have been fired long before he used fatal force on Dold. The other can no longer serve as a police officer due to repeated misconduct.
While not an admission of wrongdoing, Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor Bridget Casey said the settlement “speaks for itself.”
A sheriff’s office spokesperson didn’t respond to a request for comment.
‘Please don’t hurt him’
Standing 6 feet tall and weighing 220 pounds, friends knew Dold as a “gentle giant.” For years, he dealt cards at a Shoreline casino.
Diagnosed with schizophrenia, he heard voices and spent time in a hospital due to his mental illness.
“They go in between the worlds of what’s true and what’s not,” Jen Dold told The Daily Herald in 2018. “How can you decipher when your brain is playing tricks on you?”
By March 21, 2017, the 29-year-old man hadn’t taken his medication in months.
That evening, Dold got into an argument with his mother about money, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle in 2020. She’d usually give him $30 or $35 per day from his monthly disability checks to keep him from running out before the end of the month. He wanted more.
They struggled, before Dold left the house. The mother contacted Dold’s sister who called for a mental health professional to evaluate Dold, but officials reportedly told her Dold wasn’t violent enough to warrant that.
So instead, once Dold returned home, the mother called 911. She told dispatchers she wanted police to take her son to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, according to the complaint.
When deputies Bryson McGee and Cody McCoy arrived almost half an hour later, Dold and his mother were watching TV, according to the lawsuit.
McGee knocked on the door. Dold opened it.
McGee told Dold he wanted to come in to talk to the mother.
When Dold tried to close the door, McGee blocked it with his foot and forced his way in, according to the lawsuit. McCoy followed.
“No one was in danger when the deputies entered,” the family’s complaint stated.
Dold ran into his mother’s bedroom. The deputies followed and found Dold lying on his back on his mother’s bed.
An extended struggle followed with deputies trying to get Dold into a chokehold and handcuffed. On the porch, one deputy reportedly told Dold, “I could shoot you.”
Deputies struck him with a baton and kicked him. Dold called for his mother. When Dold would regain consciousness, McGee would choke him back into unconsciousness, according to the lawsuit.
“Please don’t hurt him, he’s schizophrenic,” Dold’s mother reportedly pleaded with deputies. “He doesn’t understand what you’re saying.”
During the struggle, McCoy deployed his Taser three times within 1½ minutes, according to the lawsuit. On his police radio, McGee said, “We’re going to need more units out here.” Minutes later, McGee also used his Taser three times.
By the time they handcuffed Dold, his heart stopped. Monroe officers, who had responded to McGee’s call for help, noted he wasn’t breathing and had no pulse. Lifesaving efforts failed. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
‘Another family in our shoes’
It was the second time McGee’s use of a Taser on someone led to a death.
In 2010, McGee was one of two deputies who responded to reports of a man shouting in a Gold Bar neighborhood in the middle of the night.
The deputies found Adam Colliers, 25, standing in the doorway of a home, according to sheriff’s office records. Colliers ran toward one patrol car yelling incoherently, before obeying an officer’s request to sit in the street. When the deputy grabbed his arm, Colliers, who was high on methamphetamine, thrashed and pulled away.
When McGee’s stun gun didn’t stop Colliers, he reportedly deployed it two more times. The deputies also punched Colliers. Once Colliers stopped resisting, the other deputy handcuffed the man.
McGee turned Colliers over and found he wasn’t breathing. CPR proved unsuccessful. Colliers was pronounced dead at the scene.
An autopsy later found he had suffered a heart attack. The medical examiner’s office concluded that a high level of drugs, extreme agitation and a struggle likely contributed to the heart attack. His death was ruled an accident.
The Snohomish County prosecutor at the time, Mark Roe, declined to file charges against McGee. In making his decision, Roe wrote he couldn’t attribute the death “to any improper law enforcement actions.”
“The deputies used only reasonable force in a situation where they had to get a subject under control,” Roe added. “While his death is horrible, and his loss is devastating to many, I don’t believe the Deputies did anything wrong.”
An internal investigation determined McGee’s actions followed the sheriff’s office use of force policy.
The Colliers family sued Snohomish County, alleging McGee used excessive force and that the sheriff’s office failed to adequately train deputies in the use of Tasers. In 2014, the county settled for $600,000 without admitting liability.
The Colliers and Dold families were represented by the same Seattle attorney, Jim Lobsenz. When the Dold family came to see Lobsenz the first time, he was surprised and upset.
“It was the same guy?” the lawyer recalled asking them, in disbelief. “He killed another person?”
On Wednesday, Jen Dold figured there would be “another family in our shoes in no time.”
“The cycle of protecting bad cops, and paying off traumatized and grieving families with taxpayer money will continue,” she said.
The Dold family’s lawsuit called the sheriff’s office keeping McGee after the death of Colliers “negligent retention.” This year, lawyers for the county, the deputies and the Dold family were still arguing in court filings about whether Colliers’ death could be brought up with a jury at a potential trial in federal court.
“Permitting Plaintiffs’ counsel to paint with a broad brush and assert that Bryson McGee has now ‘killed’ two people will seriously undermine McGee and McCoy’s ability to receive a fair hearing from the jury,” McGee and McCoy’s lawyers wrote in February.
The sides were preparing to ask the state Supreme Court to take up the negligent retention legal doctrine when the case settled.
Colliers wasn’t the only man whose death McGee was involved in before Dold.
In September 2015, police were called after Pierce Milton, in a suicidal state, reportedly stole his father’s car east of Mill Creek. McGee found the car, but before trying to stop Milton, the deputy waited for backup, according to sheriff’s office records. McGee followed as Milton drove erratically.
Once backup arrived, McGee put his lights and sirens on and pursued Milton, who drove upwards of 80 mph in a 45 mph zone.
At a Highway 9 intersection, Milton didn’t slow down at the red light and crashed. The car burst into flames. Milton couldn’t get out. The deputy emptied his fire extinguisher, but the flames grew. Milton died at the scene.
Before the pursuit, Milton had no criminal history. Roe, the county’s top prosecutor at the time, concluded Milton’s death was an intentional suicide, records indicate.
Sheriff’s office investigators again determined McGee’s actions followed agency policy, records show.
In 2015, the year Milton died, McGee was one of several deputies awarded a certificate of merit from the sheriff’s office.
‘You tapped out’
In 2008, years before Colliers, Milton and Dold died, McGee neglected to file a police report about allegations of sexual assault of a child.
That only came to light when the victim’s mother told a detective that a deputy had previously failed to file a report months earlier, according to sheriff’s office records.
Prosecutors eventually declined to pursue the case, citing McGee’s failure to file the original complaint as one of the reasons.
“As a result of Deputy McGee’s decision not to file a report a young victim may have been exposed to additional abuse at the hands of a family member, a felony suspect may have escaped justice,” Undersheriff Tom Davis wrote in a memo in 2009, “and the Sheriffs Office may have been exposed to civil liability as well as negative public scrutiny.”
At his disciplinary hearing, McGee came with Adam Fortney, who was a union representative more than a decade before he was elected sheriff. In the hearing, McGee acknowledged he should have taken a report. He attributed his decision to being inexperienced. McGee started at the sheriff’s office in late 2007, following a short stint in King County, according to his LinkedIn profile.
The sheriff at the time, John Lovick, found McGee violated state law on mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse and internal sheriff’s office policy. He received a letter of reprimand.
“Further violations of this or any other rule may result in discipline up to and including termination,” Lovick closed his letter to McGee in 2009.
McGee left the sheriff’s office in June 2017, three months after Dold died. According to his LinkedIn profile, he now works as a manager at Costco in North Carolina. He declined to comment.
McCoy also no longer works for the sheriff’s office.
In December 2018, a man complained to the sheriff’s office that McCoy had sex with his ex-girlfriend while the deputy was on duty. An internal investigation found he visited her home in Snohomish eight times while on duty in the last two months of that year, records show. On one of those occasions, he was there for over an hour. During that visit, he got dispatched to a 911 call, but reportedly didn’t leave the home for 18 minutes.
He also took the woman on ridealongs without authorization, the inquiry determined. McCoy conceded to investigators that all of the above was true.
Another pattern emerged in the investigation, however.
While assigned to the sheriff’s south precinct, he would often spend time at another woman’s home nearly 25 miles away. So when he was called to a suicide in October 2018 in Bothell, he was in Marysville, presumably headed to the woman’s home. Despite the call, he continued on to the home, staying eight minutes before leaving to respond to the emergency call.
McCoy was still four minutes from the call when paramedics decided he didn’t need to come.
In a letter to McCoy, the sheriff at the time, Ty Trenary, wrote that records “paint a clear picture of your actions, a deputy repeatedly using work time for personal and sexual pursuits, ignoring his responsibilities while on shift and even jeopardizing his ability to timely respond to emergent calls.”
“In so doing, it really is not overstating it to say you took a gamble on people’s lives,” the then-sheriff added.
Trenary also determined McCoy contacted witnesses for the investigation, despite being told not to by agency leadership.
“Here, putting it simply, the evidence shows you tapped out as a deputy,” he wrote.
Trenary told McCoy he planned to fire him for the myriad violations of department policy. McCoy, who had been with the sheriff’s office for 3½ years, resigned in lieu of termination, public records indicate.
McCoy couldn’t be reached for comment.
In 2021, the state Criminal Justice Training Commission took the rare step of revoking his certification to serve as a police officer.
The deck headline has been updated to better reflect how Alex Dold died.