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Kevin Peterson Jr.'s family plans to sue Clark County Sheriff's Office over fatal shooting

The family spoke with reporters about the October 29 shooting for the first time and addressed recent comments made by a Clark County judge.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Kevin Peterson Jr.'s family and their lawyer sat down with reporters Thursday to talk about the shooting death of their son in late October. It was the first time they had publicly talked on camera about the shooting.

"It's been 140 days without him," said Tammi Bell, Peterson's mom. "We're still looking at the door wondering when he's gonna come through. We're sad."

Court documents say three Clark County deputies shot Peterson on Oct. 29 after a drug sale of 50 Xanax pills to an informant at the Quality Inn in Hazel Dell. Peterson died after being struck four times. 

The day after the shooting, Sheriff Chuck Atkins said Peterson fired a gun during his interaction with police. 

Almost two weeks later, a team of independent investigators said they determined Peterson actually never fired a gun, but that he had one on him.

"For me it was a little irritating for him to put that out there, not knowing the facts," his dad Kevin Peterson Sr. said. 

RELATED: New video shows moments before Kevin Peterson Jr. was shot and killed by Clark County deputies

"I expect more of the police. I think they should defuse it," Bell said. "I don't know, I'm not a police officer, but I'm very upset and I want justice. It's not ok."

Peterson Sr. says the family hasn't been happy with how the case has been handled.

"We haven't heard one thing as of yet from the Clark County Sheriff's Department about the killing of my son. We haven't heard nothing," Peterson Sr. said.

Sheriff Atkins released a statement Thursday afternoon saying that any information would come from the independent investigation team, and that his office has received updates on the case at the same time the public has.

The statement reads in part, "As required by the new law [I-940], the independent investigation team was to have named a family liaison to update the family on the investigation."

RELATED: Clark County judge called to resign after comments about Black man killed by law enforcement

The Peterson family also addressed recent comments made by Clark County Judge Darvin Zimmerman on a hot microphone. He was overheard describing Peterson Jr. as “the Black guy they were trying to make an angel out of." Of Peterson Sr., he said, "the next day, he wakes up with dollar signs in his eyes and George Floyd’s attorneys had already contacted him.”

Zimmerman later apologized for his statements and has since stepped away from the bench indefinitely.

"Darvin Zimmerman doesn't know me," said Peterson Sr. "The comments that he made about me and my son doesn't reflect who we are as men. Kevin is an outstanding man, well-loved by his family members and friends, those who knew him."

The Peterson's have filed a tort claim against the Clark County Sheriff's Office, which is a precursor to a formal lawsuit. The family's lawyer, Mark Lindquist wouldn't say how much compensation the family would be seeking, but said similar lawsuits ranged in the $10-$30 million range.

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