Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Custer Co. Sheriff's Office
CUSTER COUNTY, Oklahoma - A Clinton family plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Custer County Sheriff's Office after their son was shot seven times by deputies last December.
The Custer County District Attorney ruled the shooting justified.
The Goodblankets say they called 911 the night their son died to get assistance to help calm their son, who was having a mental episode, down. But they say deputies stormed their home with weapons while the sheriff's office says that's not true.
"We know that the truth has yet to be revealed in this case," said Melissa Goodblanket.
Four months after 18-year-old Mahi-hi-vist Goodblanket was shot to death by Custer County Deputies, his parents are still stunned he's gone and even more surprised the Custer County DA will not file charges against the deputies.
"How in the world can anybody justify regardless of what the situation is shooting someone seven times and want to go ahead and call it justified?" she said.
Melissa Goodblanket says her son, who was 6 ft. 8 inches tall and loved college and tennis shoes, suffered from a mental illness called oppositional defiant disorder where he would have emotional outbursts.
She says he started having an episode the Saturday night before Christmas when he started cutting himself and smashing windows.
"He was extremely emotional, crying, shaking and distraught. He threatened to hurt himself and didn't want his girlfriend to leave," she said.
The family says when deputies arrived they stormed in the house like handling a drug bust and didn't talk to them or knew their son had a mental condition.
"They just came in with their weapons out, and I told them ‘Don't shoot my son.' But they just walked past us and didn't even check with us to see how this could be mitigated since all of this could've been prevented," said father, Wilbur Goodblanket.
Custer County Sheriff Bruce Peoples says deputies did talk extensively with the family before getting into a physical fight with the son, which resulted in one deputy accidentally shooting off his finger.
Peoples says the deputies take in to consideration everything going on when handling cases involving mental illness, and this was just a horrible tragedy.
But the family says officers pointed a gun at their youngest son, who was coming down from their tree house, and deputies later handcuffed their son's girlfriend, who was inside with Mahi-hi-vist the entire time up to the shooting.
"They're basically telling us we're lying, my wife, myself, our youngest son and my son's girlfriend. They're telling us that it didn't happen what we saw." Wilbur Goodblanket said. "They didn't try to piece together our story. They just took the word of their deputies."
Melissa said before the shooting, her son locked the front door behind her and wouldn't let her back inside. Wilbur was coming back from the door when he saw his son in an abnormal state and called police. Both watched the shooting unfold from inside their car, parked directly in front of the house.
"We had a view of everything. We saw when several agencies came into our home," Melissa said.
The family has left the blood stains on the carpet from where their son was shot, as well as blood spattered throughout his bedroom walls and flood. They say they also have no plans to repair all the bullet holes left in their kitchen from the shooting.
"He was an outgoing and loving son who would do anything for us and even traveled to London and France as a People to People Ambassador," Melissa said.
She says the family is working with their lawyer now to file their lawsuit and plan to do several rallies for justice in Custer County and at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
"The fight is far from over," she said. "Just because the district attorney made a ruling doesn't mean that were in agreement or acceptance of the ruling,"
Peoples said an autopsy said at the time of the shooting, Mahi-hi-vist Goodblanket had a blood alcohol level of at least .10. Both Custer County Sheriff's deputies involved in the shooting have since returned to work. Even though the investigation is over, the OSBI says it can't release any details.