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Family of Colorado man tased on highway before being struck and killed sues sheriff’s office

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to include a statement from Larimer County Sheriff John Feyen

Over a year after a 28-year-old Colorado man was tased by a sheriff’s deputy in the middle of Interstate 25 and then struck and killed by a motorist, that man’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday morning against the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office.

They say the deputy was responsible for Brent Thompson’s death and the trauma experienced by the family in the car that struck him, as well as putting that family and other motorists in danger.

“Thompson’s death is a tragedy and it’s a tragedy we’ve seen far too many times in Colorado; a person dying at the hands of law enforcement’s reckless actions,” Ciara Anderson, an attorney at the civil rights law firm Rathod Mohanedbhai LLC, told CBS News Colorado on Tuesday.

Traffic stop turned deadly

Larimer County sheriff’s deputies stopped Thompson around 9:15 p.m. on Feb. 18, 2023 near Mountain Vista Drive in northeastern Fort Collins for an expired license plate registration. When questioned by deputies, Thompson gave them a fake name. When the deputies realized that wasn’t Thompson’s name and determined his real identity, they confronted him about that and got him out of the car. One patted Thompson down to check for weapons; and after finding none, Thompson ran away.

Larimer County Sheriff’s Deputy Lorenzo Lujan and Corporal Matthew Bordewick chased Thompson as he ran across the shoulder and onto I-25. In body-worn camera footage of the incident, Lujan shouts, “you’re gonna get tased! Stop!” After Thompson jumps over a guardrail and onto the highway, Lujan shocks him with a Taser.

A screenshot of body-worn camera footage shows the moment a Larimer County sheriff’s deputy tases Brent Thompson on Interstate 25.COURTESY / LARIMER COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE VIA RATHOD | MOHAMEDBHAI LLC

Thompson falls down in one of the northbound lanes, and then, Lujan notices a vehicle coming at them and runs out of the way while shouting expletives. At the time, Bordewick appears to try to signal the car with his flashlight, but within about six seconds, the car runs over Thompson, bodycam footage shows.

Lujan approached Thompson and handcuffed him as he lay motionless on the road. Lujan attempts chest compressions, “stay with me.” Then, he and Bordewick carried Thompson into the grass and continued those chest compressions.

More deputies and an ambulance arrive several minutes later and paramedics take over medical care. Lujan walks away from the scene and toward other deputies and Thompson is taken to the hospital, where he’s pronounced dead about 30 minutes later.

“Always enjoyed helping”

David Thompson, Brent’s father, says his son was a unique, friendly and, at times, outspoken, young man.

“Fun to be around, good helper, always enjoyed helping anybody and everybody,” David Thompson told CBS News Colorado. “I do miss him.”


Growing up, Brent Thompson was very active and outgoing. He played basketball and baseball and was a fast runner, his father said.

Karen Kay Thompson’s face lit up when asked about her son when he was a kid.

“Brent as a little boy. He was full of fire. On the go, here and there, just fun, happy giggle,” she said. “He was always very creative and always had something going on. He was just a special, special, special person. Unreplaceable.”

Karen Kay Thompson recalls her son Brent Thompson as a boy in an interview with CBS News Colorado on Monday, April 15, 2024.CBS

As Brent Thompson grew up, he had big dreams and was active in several communities and friend groups. He worked in construction, landscaping and technology and was artistic and creative.

“The biggest thing when I think of my son was his kind, kind soul and heart and how just having him around brought joy,” Karen Kay Thompson said.

The Thompsons say their son struggled with drugs. An autopsy report showed fentanyl in his system at the time of his death, but that doesn’t define his story, his mother said.

“He had a whole life in front of him. Every piece of my being knows he would have accomplished great things if he was given the opportunity,” she said. “If he was using fentanyl on that evening, that had nothing to do with his death.

David Thompson said he has nothing against law enforcement. On the contrary, he has several friends and acquaintances in the profession and said he was raised and mentored by officers when he was younger.

David Thompson talks about his son Brent Thompson’s life and death, and what he’d like to see happen now.CBS

Still, he sees the death of his son as both a policy and training failure and a failure of an individual deputy.

“There’s certain policies and procedures that everyone follows. I’m not sure that this person even knew of them. Especially being on an interstate,” he said. “They should take this video, and any officer, any rookie or person going through the academy would realize that the first thing that he did wrong was run after my son and into harm’s way. It should have just stopped right there.”

Seeking justice

Attorneys representing the Thompson family say the entire incident was tragic, unnecessary and avoidable.

“This is not a situation where Deputy Lujan was facing a violent person,” Anderson told CBS News Colorado. “He could have easily allowed Thompson to run away and arrest him later.”

In July of 2023, Anderson’s firm told CBS News Colorado it would be filing a lawsuit, but when reached for comment on Monday, a Larimer County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said it didn’t know about the lawsuit and so couldn’t yet comment.

Tuesday afternoon, Larimer County Sheriff John Feyen issued a statement saying

“In the interest of transparency with our community, I provided information and insight about this case when it occurred and when the CIRT investigation concluded,” he said, in part. “This new civil litigation doesn’t change what I’ve shared with our community or media over the last year and a half.”

Feyen said there was no easy response on the part of his deputies, but that the incident is being incorporated into training now.

“While it’s crucial that we continue evaluating and adjusting as situations evolve, we also have to acknowledge that environmental and human factors (like recognition and reaction time) will have an effect,” his statement continued. “The District Attorney determined that the deputy’s actions were legally justified as he tried to stop Mr. Thompson from endangering innocent motorists. The deputy was forced to make a choice with no easy answer: act and try to stop the suspect, or stand by passively and simply hope no innocent people got hurt.”

Anderson and the Thompsons are seeking a jury trial and want a judge to rule that Lujan used excessive force and was liable for Brent Thompson’s death. They’re also seeking compensatory damages for medical and funeral bills, pain and suffering and more, according to the lawsuit.

District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin said in a July 2023 letter “I conclude that there is no reasonable likelihood of success in proving unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt that Deputy Lorenzo Lujan is criminally culpable for his attempt to effect the arrest of Brent Thompson.”

With Lujan having been cleared of criminal wrongdoing by the district attorney’s office, Anderson said: “The family is seeking justice because they were robbed of that through criminal proceedings since there were none.”

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