Family of 16-year-old CHOP shooting victim preparing to sue City of Seattle
SEATTLE - It’s been more than two years since Antonio Mays Jr. was shot and killed in Seattle.
His father, who lives in southern California, says he waited to get answers for months. Now he’s fed up with a lack of information, and accountability for his son’s death. Which led to a tort claim – essentially an early warning of a pending lawsuit – being filed against the City of Seattle.
"I’m getting the exact opposite," said Mays Sr. when asked about justice. "No answers. I have so many questions still. There is no justice."
To understand the case of Antonio Mays Jr. you have to look back to 2020. As racial justice protests unfolded around the country, Seattle became a focal point.
The CHOP (Capitol Hill Organized Protest) zone – also known as CHAZ for a short time – became a national headline as protestors and activists overtook a section of Capitol Hill, while the Seattle Police Department abandoned the east precinct.
Mays Jr. traveled to Seattle to take part in a modern day Civil Rights movement, per his estate’s attorney.
"He was here to participate in something bigger than him," said Evan Oshan, with Oshan & Associates. "Something that was going to change things and make the world a better place and he was greeted by this insane situation up on Capitol Hill."
The tort paints a picture of chaos, noting how a local rapper/activist Raz Simone declared himself a "warlord" of the area.
"Mr. Simone, a civilian, formed a make-shift police force and provided them with AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifles."
The claim does not specify a monetary damage amount, but does lay out an explanation of how the City of Seattle abandoned CHOP without plans to provide essential services leading to Mays’ death. Mays was shot and killed nine days after another teen, Horace Lorenzo Anderson, was shot and killed near the same area.
At the time of the shooting, first responders and police said they could not reach the victims because of the protests.
The Mayor’s Office, which has changed leadership since the deadly shooting, responded to the news of the tort claim.
"The death of a child from gun violence is a tragedy that no family should have to endure," a spokesperson wrote. "Mayor Harrell trusts that the City will respond to the claim and any related litigation in an appropriate manner."
While the tort was directed at the City of Seattle, Oshan also took aim at both King County and the Governor’s Office for failing to step-in.
The county responded with condolences for the family of Antonio Mays Jr. while noting that the jurisdiction of CHOP was within the City of Seattle and that the county should not be involved in any litigation.
A spokesperson for the Governor’s Office said they had not had a chance to review the tort claim. FOX 13 News has since sent them the document. We are still awaiting a response.
Mays Sr. told FOX 13 that he hopes a lawsuit will spur action in his son’s investigation. While a spokesperson for Seattle Police indicated it remains an open investigation, Mays Sr. said it’s stalled – or closed. He explained that he didn’t publicly talk for a long time because he wanted to allow police to do their jobs, but now he’s fed up.
"Nothing is going to fill the gap or the void – but the fact that whoever did this is still running around out here fancy, free and feeling like a bad ass just rolling through society and doing this kind of shit? That’s wrong. It’s disturbing."
Mays Sr. said his son had a bright future. They had been working together on a family business. A barbecue sauce that had grown from farmer’s markets to grocery store shelves in southern California. He had high hopes for his son to work alongside him as they continued to grow.
Now, he’s waiting for answers with no certainty they’ll come.
"I think about it every day," said Mays Sr. "It’s something that I’m definitely living with every day."