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Lawsuit filed in Monroe Street Bridge suicide

Attorneys on Monday filed a $4.7 million federal civil suit against the Spokane Police Department and Spokane County Sheriff’s Office for their failed attempt to keep a mentally-ill man from jumping off the Monroe Street Bridge while his father watched.

Breean Beggs, formerly of the Center for Justice, filed the suit in federal court, which was one day short of the three-year anniversary of Joshua Levy’s fatal jump. The 28-year-old college student with paranoid schizophrenia was engaged in a standoff with police on July 26, 2007, that lasted into the next day.

Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick promised Levy’s family that officers wouldn’t use force, but that plan changed when an officer fired a Taser at Levy. When the probes missed, two officers rushed at him and he jumped, Beggs wrote in court records.

The suit also alleges that police and sheriff’s officials, who were spelling the city officers, did not seek out advice from mental health officials before attempting to end the standoff.

“They decide to rush him,” Beggs said. “It’s almost guaranteed that he is going to jump.”

Levy’s father was there but was not told of the decision to try to secure Levy by force, Beggs said. “Then he gets to watch his son jump off the bridge.”

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