The parents of a Georgia Tech student who was killed by a campus police officer two years ago have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the school and the officer, according to court documents.
Scout Schultz – who identified as nonbinary and intersex and used the pronouns “they” and “them” – was fatally shot September 16, 2017, after approaching officers with a knife and saying, “Shoot me,” police previously said. At the time, a family attorney said Schultz was suffering from a “mental breakdown.”
The lawsuit, filed in US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on Wednesday, claims the officer who shot Schultz, Tyler Beck, had not received proper crisis intervention training, unlike other officers on the scene.
At least one of the officers had received training to help an officer identify when a subject is in the midst of a mental health crisis, the lawsuit says, and de-escalate the situation.
Several officers in the encounter “remained calm and followed standard de-escalation techniques without initiating physical force directed” at Schultz, the lawsuit says. But Beck “did not de-escalate and instead used physical force,” it says.
In a news conference Thursday, family attorney L. Chris Stewart did not deny that Schultz was walking around with a knife, telling officers to shoot.
“This is an example of four other outstanding officers who refused to do that because of their training and their understanding of mental illness,” said Stewart. Those officers, he said, repeatedly backed away and displayed de-escalation techniques.
“But Officer Beck did not have that training,” he said.
According to the lawsuit, Beck’s actions amounted to violations of Schultz’s rights under the Fourth and 14th Amendments, claiming their right to be free from unreasonable seizures. The suit, which also claims Beck used excessive force, seeks unspecified damages.
“It was preventable, it should never have happened and it was a tragedy,” family attorney Stewart said.
At the time of their death, Schultz was the president of the Georgia Tech Pride Alliance and could often be found on campus promoting LGBTQ causes. They were a fourth-year computer engineering major with a minor in biomedical engineering.
Beck returned to active duty with the Georgia Tech Police Department in April 2018, following six months of administrative leave, Denise Ward, a spokeswoman for the university, said. He is currently a member of the administrative team, Ward said.
Asked about the lawsuit, Ward said the university would not comment on pending litigation.
CNN was unable to reach Beck for comment Thursday.
The shooting was captured on cellphone video
Late in the evening on Saturday, September 16, 2017, Georgia Tech Police officers responded to a report of a suspicious person on the school’s campus. The caller described the person as a white male with long blond hair, a white T-shirt and blue jeans, possibly intoxicated. The caller said the person was holding a knife and possibly a gun.
The officers encountered Schultz, who was barefoot, wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt, outside a dormitory. Cellphone video from that night shows officers repeatedly yelling at Schultz to put down the knife and not to move.
“Nobody wants to hurt you,” says one officer. Another asks, “What’s going on, man?”
But as Schultz takes a few steps forward, an officer fires his weapon. Schultz was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
Investigators later found that Schultz was the one who called 911, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said. Three suicide notes were found in the student’s dorm room; no gun was found at the scene and the only knife found was one inside a multipurpose tool, the GBI said.
The shooting drew accusations of excessive force by police, and prompted protests on campus that led to the arrests of three students.