David Thorkelson has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Lee County Sheriff’s Office after a deputy shot and killed his wife, Debi Thorkelson.
The incident occurred on August 31, 2017 in Lazy Way in Fort Myers Beach. Deputies responded to a 911 call from Debi’s home. There was a standoff in the home and Thorkelson allegedly raised a rifle to the police when they arrived. One of the deputies then shot at Debi, killing her.
“Our deputy feared for his life and safety, and he discharged his firearm,” said then-undersheriff and current Lee County Sheriff, Carmine Marceno.
The lawsuit says that Debi suffered from mental health disorders and the alleged weapon was an unloaded BB gun.
“The facts are, this officer took this shot knowing it was a BB gun, he was never disciplined, he was never changed with misconduct, he was never reprimanded,” said Stuart Kaplan of Kaplan and Parker Attorney’s at Law.
David claims that he called the Lee County Sheriff’s office to tell them that Debi was only armed with a BB gun.
‘With absolutely no forensic evidence of any blood or any indication that Debi Thorkelson was actually possessing that rifle at the time he shot her- was very troubling and very compelling to show that there was no need to use deadly force,” said Kaplan.
The State Attorney’s Office reviewed the case in April of 2018 and determined that “Captain Robert Casale was justified in using deadly force to protect others.”
“I’ve never had a case that I’ve been involved in where the State Attorney’s Office hasn’t cleared the officer, and I look at it as a rubber stamp,” Kaplan added.
The lawsuit seeks compensation for damages due to excessive force.
This isn’t the first time police have been accused of using excessive force. On Tuesday, a federal jury in Easton awarded Charlene Klein $270,000 in an excessive force case against Allentown police.
Klein said that police threw her across a concrete wall that resulted in injuries that required surgery.
“The jury verdict was loud and clear — it is essential that the Allentown Police Department reform its ways,” said attorney Robert Goldman, who represented Klein with attorney Joshua Karoly. “They scrutinized the ways of its officers and said they don’t tolerate violations of citizens’ rights.