What started with a minor car accident and a Seattle police officer’s lie ended with a man taking his own life, according to a lawsuit filed by his mother and friends.
Porter Feller, a 40-year-old Seattle resident, was driving his Mitsubishi Eclipse on May 29, 2018 when he crashed into a BMW, pushing it into an Acura and causing “minor damage,” according to a lawsuit filed June 4 in King County Superior Court by Feller’s mom, Renée Thomas, and friends Maggie Parks and Amy Marderosian. The three are suing the city of Seattle for wrongful death, outrage and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
No one reported injuries in the crash and Feller left the scene without giving his information, the lawsuit states.
Later on the day of the crash, Seattle Police Officer Matthew Kerby was tasked with getting a statement and insurance information from Feller and went to Parks’ home, which was listed on Feller’s car registration.
Beforet reaching Parks’ house, Kerby told fellow police officer Guzman that he “planned on using a ruse” in the investigation and was recorded on audio and video saying, “It’s a lie, but it’s fun.”
Feller wasn’t at the house when Kerby arrived, and the police officer told Parks that Feller had been involved in a hit-and-run accident and critically injured a woman who “might not survive,” the lawsuit said.
Parks gave police Feller’s phone number and after the officers left she called him, telling Feller what Kerby told her, according to the suit. Although Feller didn’t believe he hurt anyone, he “grew increasingly concerned” that he had accidentally hit a pedestrian.
Another friend warned Feller that he “could go to prison for a long time” and later found a bag in his garage containing personal effects and money from Feller, along with a note that read, “If you don’t see me, keep this stuff,” the lawsuit states.
Marderosian, who was also his roommate, said Feller was “freaking out” on June 2, 2018 and asked her “if it was normal to think about suicide,” according to the suit.
Marderosian found Feller dead the next morning in his bedroom “with foam around his mouth and a pool of blood on the floor,” along with a note reading, “You keep this” next to a pile of cash, according to the lawsuit.
In response to the lawsuit, Dan Nolte, spokesperson for Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, said in an email to McClatchy News: “We are reviewing the complaint and intend to investigate the brought claims in this matter.”
A November 2019 investigation by the Seattle Office of Police Accountability concluded that Kerby’s ruse was “abuse of his discretion” and there was “insufficient need” to lie.
Officials said Kerby’s ruse “shocked fundamental fairness” and that he acted “without any apparent consideration of the possible consequences.” They also recommended additional training for police on ruses.
The Seattle Police Department also issued a statement last year saying Kerby has been disciplined and that his actions were wrong, but that “drawing conclusions about the reasons for Feller’s death would be speculative,” The Seattle Times reported.
Who to call
If you or someone you know is thinking about self harm, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). It’s available 24/7.