City of Forks pays $333k to family of man shot, killed by police

The City of Forks has paid $333,000 to settle a civil-rights lawsuit filed by relatives of a man who was shot and killed by police in 2016 after an officer allegedly escalated a welfare check into a deadly confrontation.

The lawsuit filed by the family of Edward Lowell Hills was unusual in that it didn’t name the officer who fired the fatal shot as a defendant, but blamed the shooting on the actions of another officer, Michael Gentry, who had a troubled history, The Seattle Times reported. Gentry has since resigned from the Forks Police Department.

According to the lawsuit, Gentry confronted Hills and used a Taser him within 78 seconds of arriving at the RV Court where he lived. When Gentry arrived, Hills was talking to Clallam County Sheriff’s Sgt. Edwin Anderson, who also had responded and was trying to sort out and defuse the situation, according to court documents.

Hill had been standing in the doorway of his trailer talking to Anderson on Nov. 4, 2016, after a neighbor called police to report that Hills had been yelling all night and the neighbor was concerned about his mental health, according to reports.

After Gentry used his Taser on Hills, Hills reached for a gun inside his trailer "in a desperate attempt to defend himself," the lawsuit said.

Both officers drew weapons and fired. Anderson shot Hills followed by Gentry shooting Hills "through a closed door and through the walls of his home" without knowing if there was anyone else inside.

Attempts by the newspaper to contact Gentry by phone weren’t successful. A message left with Forks City Attorney Rod Fleck wasn’t returned.

Gentry resigned in 2017 after he was suspended when a woman accused him of rape and obtained a protective order, according to court documents. The FBI was contacted to conduct an investigation, according to Forks police documents, although no federal criminal charges have been filed.

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