Andrea Churna had so many reasons to live, including a young son, a successful career and a fresh start after divorcing her spouse.
Her parents, Michael and Margaret Thomas, helped their 39-year-old daughter move into a fourth floor apartment in Redmond, where they thought she would be safe.
“She had been diagnosed with PTSD after the stalking,” said Margaret Thomas, adding that the ordeal forced her daughter to frequently look over her shoulder.
In late September the couple said their worst fears were realized when Churna called police to respond to what the believed was a home intruder.
“She’s the one who called them for help,” Michael Thomas said. “Then all of a sudden she became the suspect.”
The woman had called 911 because she thought an intruder had broken into her apartment. Officers arrived but could not find anyone inside.
“At some point the individual confronted officers with a hand gun,” said Redmond Police Department Chief Darrell Lowe, adding that the responding officers opened fire, killing the woman in her own home.
Nearly one year later, her parents continue to question the version of events put forth by police. Andrea’s parents have hired attorneys and are now considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Depending on the outcome of the independent investigation, the Redmond officers could still be charged.
“Well it was very difficult to believe my daughter would even intentionally try to hurt a police officer,” her father said.
Though a public disclosure request, KOMO News obtained 911 calls and police reports about the case.
According to those reports, a Redmond officer arrived and saw Churna on her balcony while frantically asking for assistance. The police report indicates that the woman pointed a gun in his direction and did not obey commands to stay outside.
Officer Tyler Tomlinson was waiting in the hallway with back up, and says she also pointed a pistol at him. in response, he fired several rounds but missed.
“ I can’t imagine the fear my daughter must have been in,” said her father, a retired law enforcement officer who adds that he raised his daughter to respect police.
The report goes on to say Andrea asked to speak with her ex-husband before she eventually walked out and laid on her stomach in the hallway. After being on the ground for about three minutes and multiple orders to stay still, police say she lifted her chest and raised her arm towards her door.
Officer Daniel Mendoza and Officer Evan Barnard later told a police sergeant that they fired the shots, but it remains unclear why.
The woman was struck by six bullets before dying in the hallway. Her parents have asked why police didn’t try to de-escalate the situation.
“You couldn’t handcuff her? You couldn’t tase her?” Michael Thomas said. “There’s all these other steps you could do.”
Redmond police said in their report about the incident that Churna was unarmed at the time of her death, but her gun was eventually found inside her apartment.
“Something is very wrong, how can that happen?” Margaret Thomas said. “How should that happen.”
Redmond police officers do not wear body cameras and no surveillance video of the event has turned up.
“What version of the truth are you going to get seven months later?” Michael Thomas said.
Redmond Police Chief Darrell Lowe declined comment, citing an ongoing independent investigation by the King County Sheriff’s Office. Lowe said Churna was never accused of a crime.
The three officers who were involved in the response were initially placed on administrative leave but they have returned to their jobs.
“You know, one moment I pray for those officers,” Michael Thomas said. “And the next moment, I’m so angry.”