Prosecutor: Police shooting that killed Fife man was justified

TACOMA, Wash. -- The Lakewood police officer who shot and killed a Fife man in May will not face any criminal charges, Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist announced Wednesday.

Police say they had no choice but to shoot 30-year-old Leonard Thomas, a father who they say was holding his child hostage in the early hours of May 23.

Police say Thomas was despondent over the death of a friend when he called his mother, Annalesa Thomas, to come care for his 4-year-old son. When Annalesa arrived, she said Leonard refused to hand the boy over and assaulted her, so she called 911.

When officers arrived on scene, Thomas refused to surrender and members of a SWAT team spent four hours trying to talk him out, according to police.

"He was actually holding the child as a shield, walking around the residence and at one point even holding the child out the second floor window," Lt. Dave Woods of the Fife Police Department said in May.

According to police, Thomas put his son on the porch, but then tried to pull the child back inside the house. At that point SWAT officer Brian Markert opened fire on Thomas, who was hit and later died at St. Joseph's Hospital.

The Pierce County Medical Examiner's Office, Pierce County Prosecutor's Office, the Fife Police Department and the Cooperative Cities Metro Crime Response Unit investigated the shooting, and Lindquist concluded the shooting was justifiable homicide under state law.

"Officer Markert, an expert marksman, did what was necessary to protect a child," Lindquist said in a Wednesday news release.