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Family of man who was tased, fatally struck by vehicle on I-25 files lawsuit against Larimer County deputy

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — The family of a man who was tased during a traffic stop and fatally struck by a passing vehicle on Interstate 25 has filed a lawsuit against the involved Larimer County sheriff’s deputy.

On Feb. 18, 2023, Brent Thompson, 28, was heading northbound on I-25 when he was pulled over near the Mountain Vista exit for expired registration. The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office said Thompson gave deputies a fake name. When deputies asked Thompson to step out of the car, he ran away toward the interstate, according to the sheriff’s office.

Deputy Lorenzo Lujan tased Thompson, who was then hit by a passing vehicle. Thompson was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

“[Brent] was pulled over for an expired license plate, and then he was dead. So put a sense to that,” Brent’s mom, Karen Thompson, said.

“He was a he was a good man. This should have never happened,” said Brent’s dad, David Thompson.

In the lawsuit, Thompson’s family alleges Deputy Lujan violated his constitutional rights and used unreasonable physical and deadly force during the stop.

“Mr. Thompson’s death was wholly avoidable. Any reasonable person knows or should know that tasing someone on I-25 in the dark of night is a death sentence. Deputy Lujan’s conduct constitutes excessive force… Deputy Lujan is liable for wrongful death under state law,” the lawsuit reads.

“We cannot normalize such egregious and preventable deaths at the hands of police. It’s unacceptable,” said Ciara Anderson, an attorney with Rathod | Mohamedbhai LLC, which is representing the Thompson family.

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Colorado DA releases opinion in death investigation of man struck on I-25

The Eight Judicial District Attorney’s Office announced in July that criminal charges would not be filed against Deputy Lujan. District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin said in his opinion that “applying the law to the facts of this incident… I conclude 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.”

The district attorney’s office concluded the use of force in this case is not considered “deadly force” per Colorado law because the deputy did not intend to cause Thompson’s death. The Thompson family disagrees.

“I do not believe that at all. Deadly force was used, even if you’re using a taser,” said David. “Let’s go back to policies and principles… Was he a real threat? Isn’t that what you use weapons for? Last time I looked, that’s not what officers do.”

“He had plenty of time to do it differently that didn’t end up in the death of my son,” Karen said.

The Thompson family said they hope to hold both the sheriff’s office and Larimer County accountable for what happened the night of Brent’s death.

“Bad things can happen unnecessarily. And then you’re put in a position of power, like police officers. They should be trained to use that power and control appropriately. I don’t think that happened in this case. Because you’re at their mercy,” Karen said. “I think that [Lujan] should be removed from any weapon handling and off the streets because he doesn’t care about humanity.”

“The civil lawsuit is to hold the deputy accountable and to make sure that moving forward, Larimer County and every other county in Colorado holds its police accountable,” Anderson said.

The lawsuit — which only names Lujan as a defendant — seeks payment for compensatory and consequential damages, including emotional distress, as well as punitive damages. But the Thompson family and their attorneys also want to see change.

“Training is a piece of what we’re looking for, but you can’t train away bad policing. And so we want more training, but we also want the police — all departments — to look at themselves internally and make sure that these things don’t happen again,” Anderson said.

The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office on July 26 released a video summary, which includes remarks from Larimer County Sheriff John Feyen and body-worn camera footage from the incident. 

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