Dustin Theoharis was napping on the afternoon of February 12, 2012. When he awoke, police shot him.
According to the Huffington Post, Theoharis was taking a nap at a friend’s house in Auburn, Washington, where he rented a room, when police arrived. They were looking for Theoharis’s friend’s son, who is a convicted felon.
Theoharis describes what happened when he awoke to find King County sheriff’s deputy Aaron Thompson and corrections officer Kristopher Rongen standing in the doorway. He tells the Seattle Times,
I woke up and there were two guys standing at the door. They asked me for ID and I went to grab for it and that’s when I was shot.
Rongen said that he ordered Theoharis to show his hands, and asked for ID. He claims that Theoharis reached under the mattress, and that was when he opened fire. Thompson’s account differs slightly, as he claims that Rongen never asked for ID. He says he began shooting because he also feared that Theoharis was reaching for a gun. Police later reported that no weapons were found in the room.
Theoharis was struck 16 times. He was shot in his jaw, his abdomen, both arms, both legs, his hand and his shoulder. He spent six weeks in the hospital, followed by months more in a skilled nursing facility.
Theoharis doesn’t hold a grudge.
The injuries from the shooting have left Theoharis unable to work. He says he loved his job as a refrigeration mechanic. But now, he is unable to stand for long stretches. He has lost the coordination in his left hand and arm. He says he socializes less now than he used to, partly because he suffers from post-traumatic stress.
Theoharis says that he was disappointed when he read the officers’ accounts of the shooting. He won’t call them false, but he says that the officers’ versions of what happened are “frustrating.”
Still, he doesn’t hold a grudge over what happened to him. “It’s a tough job they have to do. Sometimes they make mistakes,” he tells the Seattle Times. He adds, “I don’t think what they did to me was intentionally malicious, but it was still a mistake.”
Theoharis originally filed a $20 million lawsuit against the Washington state Department of Corrections in 2013. The county agreed to pay him $3 million, to avoid going to court, according to KOMO. In February, the state paid him another $2.5 million.
After paying one third of the settlement to his lawyers, and taking care of hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills, Theoharis isn’t left with a lot of money. But, he says, “If I’m careful and invest wisely, I can probably live comfortably for the rest of my life.”
In February, it was also announced that the two officers involved in the shooting will not face criminal charges.
The video below, from KOMO, offers some background into what happened to Theoharis, as well as what King county has done to fix problems in the sheriff’s department in the aftermath.