LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The family of a Pine Bluff man killed by police has filed a federal lawsuit against authorities and local hospitals.
Authorities say 39-year-old Tyrone Washington was behind the wheel of a stolen car on December 3, 2020, when according to the Pulaski County Prosecutor, an officer justifiably used deadly force to protect fellow police. Washington’s family says that leaves out vital details.
In Tyrone’s aunt, Patricia Washington’s words, “He needed help, and he did not get the right help.”
The family’s 27-page lawsuit states Washington was in the middle of a mental health crisis and had gone to CHI St. Vincent and UAMS the two days before his death.
Civil rights attorney Michael Laux alleges, “It was noted in his chart that he was a schizophrenic who had not seen a physician in a while and was no longer on medication.”
He argues that is what brought Washington to UAMS’s campus in the early morning where the lawsuit states a UAMS employee witnesses said after the fact Washington was “mumbling”, “scared”, “acting crazy” and claiming to be chased by someone with a machete.
Believing he should have been admitted into the hospital when he stole an idle vehicle tears his three children up inside.
“It’s been hard just waking up every day, every morning. Just feeling like you’ve got a hole up in my heart,” Tyrone’s son Tyrin Washington’s admitted.
Tyrone’s daughter, Taelor Washington said through tears, “I’ll never get to have a father and daughter dance, and it’s so hard looking at my brothers because they look just like him. I just really miss him.”
How UAMS Police approached Washington is also being cited in the lawsuit. It claims their actions deviated from policies concerning those with disabilities.
However, UAMS sent a statement regarding the lawsuit claiming no wrongdoing. It says,
“Our hearts go out to the family of Tyrone Washington. Officer Watson believed the life of her fellow officer, who was being dragged by a stolen vehicle driven by Mr. Washington, was in danger. She acted to save her fellow officer’s life. The Arkansas State Police and the Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office conducted an investigation of the incident and found no wrongdoing by the officer or UAMS.” -Leslie Taylor, UAMS Vice Chancellor, Communications
The Washington family disagrees and says they are willing to argue so to the highest courts.
While shaking her head, Tyrone’s grandmother insisted, “It was just wrong. He did not deserve that.”
Our station also reached out to CHI St. Vincent, but their public relations team said the hospital does not comment on pending litigation.