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Family sues deputy for using Taser on man who was then hit by vehicle on I-25

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — The parents of a man who was killed during an encounter with a Larimer County Sheriff’s Office deputy have filed a lawsuit against the officer, alleging excessive force.

The incident happened Feb. 18, 2023, on Interstate 25 near the Mountain Vista exit northeast of central Fort Collins. Video of the incident was released last year.

Deputy Lorenzo Lujan is seen on body camera video trying to chase down Brent Thompson as he runs away and jumps over a guardrail on Interstate 25. As Thompson enters the interstate, Lujan deploys his taser, striking Thompson, who falls to the ground in the middle of the highway.

Seconds later, the video shows a vehicle hitting Thompson, who was killed.

“Maybe he shouldn’t have run from the police. He wasn’t hurting anyone. He didn’t threaten anyone. He wasn’t a hard criminal,” said Karen Thompson, Brent’s mother.

Karen and Dave Thompson are named as plaintiffs and representatives of Brent Thompson’s estate in a lawsuit they filed this week against Lujan. They are represented by Ciara Anderson of the Rathod Mohamedbhai law firm.

“Mr. Thompson’s death was wholly avoidable,” the lawsuit reads. “Any reasonable person knows or should know that Tasing someone on I-25 in the dark of night is a death sentence.”

The Larimer County District Attorney’s Office said last year it would not file charges against Lujan, but in a letter said that Lujan showed “poor judgment and possibly a need for additional and more robust training, but not criminal culpability.”

The letter says Thompson was under the influence of fentanyl and gave Lujan a false name before he ran. The encounter began when Lujan noticed Thompson was driving with an expired license plate.

The Thompson family called the lack of charges a travesty of justice and said in an interview with 9NEWS they hope their lawsuit will bring a sense of justice for their son.

“But it just seems like such a simple decision for someone to make, to not Taser an individual in the middle of a road,
Karen Thompson said. “So I’d like to see them be trained to not do that.”

Larimer County Sheriff John Feyen said in a statement that this incident prompted discussions on challenges and considerations around decision-making.

“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,” he said. “We frequently encounter unique and unpredictable situations, which is why we train deputies to use the information they have available in the moment and act based on the Safety Priorities. Safety Priorities are the national standard that define law enforcement decision-making, prioritizing victims, then bystanders, then first responders, and then suspects.”

He said that Lujan had 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. We will continue to discuss this challenging case in training and internal conversations about dynamic decision-making, Safety Priorities, and the consequences of action or inaction.”

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