Press Releases


Contact: Riall Johnson
Phone: 650-520-8397

The Thomas Family tells their story of loss and police violence in the De-Escalate Washington Campaign’s first video launch

Seattle, WA - In May 2015, Washington state resident, Leonard Thomas, was shot to death by police in front of his own home while holding his four-year-old son in his arms. Today, for the first time, his family is sharing their story on camera and calling for more police training and accountability to help saves lives.

“They absolutely escalated a situation far beyond what it needed to be,” Annalesa Thomas, mother of Leonard, shares in the video. “I called the police simply because my son had been drinking and he was off his bipolar medicine… My expectation was that a couple officers would come… We had 29 officers on scene. We had a SWAT vehicle in our front yard and a SWAT vehicle in our backyard.”




De-Escalate Washington is gathering signatures for Initiative I-940. The initiative would require law enforcement to receive violence de-escalation and mental-health training, require independent investigation of police use of deadly force, and remove our state’s de facto immunity from prosecution when police kill people.

To build bridges between communities and police, text to GIVE at 206-202-0461 to make a donation.

If you would like to help make everyone safer in Washington, please donate here, forward this email to five friends, share this video on your Facebook page, and re-tweet this on Twitter.

Please contact Riall Johnson, Campaign Manager at 650-520-8397 or with endorsement, partnership, or press-related questions.




Contact: Riall Johnson

Phone: 650-520-8397


De-Escalate Washington Campaign Supports the Seattle Seahawks - Put Justice First and Save Lives.

Seattle, WA -  The De-Escalate Washington Leadership Team supports the decision of the Seahawks to sit out the national anthem.  Many in the Leadership Team are staunch Seattle Seahawks fans.  Our Campaign Manager, Riall Johnson, played professional football for nine years.   We back the continued efforts to put justice first.

I-940 supporters include men and women connected to the armed services, either as veterans or currently serving, and they have told us that they serve to protect our freedoms, including freedom of speech.

These protests began as a response to police violence.   De-Escalate Washington’s goal is to change the culture of policing, reduce violence, and save lives.  

The campaign is gathering signatures for Initiative 940, which will require violence de-escalation and mental health training for all officers.  The objective is better trained officers and safer communities.  James Rideout, Puyallup Tribal Councilman, lost his niece to police violence and has dedicated countless hours on this issue, says “We’ll never see justice for our loved ones. But preservation of life is our goal.”

Marilyn Covarrubias’ son Daniel was killed by Lakewood Police in 2015, and has been very public about the impact police violence has on families.  “We want to be able to trust the police again.”  Covarrubias wants better training.  “I feel that proper training will give police the tools to interact with human beings in a more compassionate manner,” she said.

Thirty-one people have been killed this year in Washington State, with 19 alone since June.  In all of 2016, there were 29 people killed by police in our state.  This summer, the Campaign grieved along with the nation when Charleena Lyles was killed at the hands of the Seattle Police Department, with her children at her side.  “We need Initiative 940 passed to ensure my cousin Charleena Lyles didn’t die in vain!” said Katrina Johnson.  

The NFL players are raising awareness to something that is much too real for families who have lost loved ones.  Michael Bennett’s own experience with police violence in Las Vegas makes his participation, and his support of Charleena Lyle’s children, even more compelling.

None of us are just bystanders.  We urge everyone, individuals and politicians, to take the next step, sign the petition and volunteer for the campaign.

Let’s put justice first and save lives.





Contact: Riall Johnson

Phone: 650-520-8397



De-Escalate Washington Campaign Coming to Eastern Washington


Yakima, WA -  The De-Escalate Washington Campaign will hold community meetings in Eastern Washington on September 22, 23, and 24.  Meetings will be held Friday night in Yakima, Saturday afternoon in Pasco, and Sunday afternoon in Spokane. 


Families from Justice for Jackie and Justice for Daniel will be participating and they invite community members to attend.  These families were brought together at the toughest time, and they are working together to make our communities safer.  The families have endorsed Initiative 940. They encourage everyone to come tell their stories and discuss how our communities are affected. Others from the De-Escalate Washington Campaign will be present, including Latino Civic Alliance, One America, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, and the Puyallup Tribe of Indians.


Initiative 940 is a state-wide initiative. It requires state-wide training for violence de-escalation, mental health, and first aid, and that police must render first aid, it defines the good faith standard for officer use of deadly force, requires independent investigations, brings diverse community stakeholders to the table, and includes Tribes in investigations. 


There have been twenty-nine people killed by police in Washington State to date in 2017. Twenty-nine people were killed by police in Washington State in all of 2016.  The message we are delivering is that we all have a role in this work and together we can reform the system.  The public is encouraged to attend to meet these families and other Campaign leadership and learn how to participate in the De-Escalate Washington Campaign.



Community Meetings on De-Escalate Washington



Families and Campaign leadership will be present to answer questions



Yakima, Friday, September 22nd 6pm

Yakima Community College

S. 16th Ave and Nob Hill Blvd

Deccio Building Parker Conference Room


Pasco, Saturday, September 23rd, 1pm

Community Unitarian Universalist Church

2819 West Sylvester Street


Spokane, Sunday, September 24th, 2pm

Unitarian Universalist Church

4340 W. Fort Wright Dr.





Contact: Leslie Cushman, 360-280-0087,


Use of force initiative making progress
Endorsements, Leadership, Staffing, and Funding all on the Rise.

De-Escalate Washington’s Initiative 940 steps up to the need for state-wide training for law enforcement to reduce incidents of violence and increase community safety around Washington State. The I-940 campaign is making great progress to assure it will qualify by the end of 2017.

The statewide “initiative to the legislature” requires more training on de-escalation, mental health, and first aid for officers as well as requires them to give first aid in use of force cases. It also requires independent investigations and updates the use of deadly force statute, that some have called too restrictive and others, the worst in the country.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg recently said that he can see no scenario where police can be held criminally liable under the current law. Both King County Sheriff candidates John Urquhart and Mitzi Johanknecht have joined the Black Law Enforcement Association of Washington and National Black Police Association in endorsing I-940. Criminal Justice Training Commission Executive Director Sue Rahr is also collaborating with campaign leadership to make Washington State a national leader in violence reduction and safety of officers and the public.

The following is an update on endorsements, leadership, funding, and staffing for De-Escalate WA’s I-940 campaign as well as quotes for a story.

  • Recent endorsements for I-940
    • Amnesty International USA
    • Asian Pacific American Coalition for Equality (APACE)
    • Asian Pacific Islander Coalition (APIC)
    • Black Law Enforcement Association of Washington (BLEA)
    • Equal Rights Washington
    • Faith Action Network
    • Martin Luther King County Labor Council
    • Real Change
    • SEIU Washington State Council
    • Solid Ground
    • Washington Bus
    • Washington State Labor Council 
  • De-Escalate Washington adds two people the campaign Leadership Team
    • Larry Shannon, Washington State Association for Justice
    • Monisha Harrell, Equal Rights Washington 
  • Campaign funding for I-940 reaches nearly $175,000
    The largest funders include:
    • The Puyallup Indian Tribe
    • SEIU Washington State Council
    • SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
    • SEIU 775
    • Not This Time Action Fund 
  • The I-940 campaign has hired three staff people, all with experience on winning statewide initiative campaigns. They include:
    • Riall Johnson, Campaign Manager
    • Gabe Meyer, Finance Director
    • Sophia Nicholson Keener, Volunteer Coordinator 
  • Quotes by I-940 Leadership:

  • “We are excited that so many people are lining up to sign Initiative 940 as well as get their networks involved to help fund the campaign. It's unfortunate that it has taken many lives to be lost to move people to action, but know that now is the time to make a change for safety, justice, and accountability.”
    • Andre Taylor, Campaign Chair and Founder of Not This Time
  • “As a tribal community living in an urban environment and having experienced the effects of police use of deadly force in our community, the Puyallup Tribe fully supports Initiative 940. This issue is greater than any one person or government, and impacts communities and people of color across the state. The Tribe is a strong supporter of law enforcement and we believe I-940 will make our communities safer for all of us. We are committed to getting this law changed and enhancing officer training and will stay at the table to make sure it is implemented and that it works.”
    • Tim Reynon, Campaign Vice Chair and Puyallup Tribal Council Member

  • “This campaign is a people-powered grassroots campaign that has a solid plan to qualify and win. I-940’s strategy is to utilize the power of volunteers as well as professionals to succeed. We are proud to have such a broad coalition of organizations standing together to build bridges, gather signatures, and give support through their extensive networks.”
    • Riall Johnson, Campaign Manager 
  • “Qualifying an initiative in Washington is expensive. Most campaigns raise the money before launching but most initiatives don’t center the people most affected by the policy change, like I-940 does. This campaign is community-led and small, medium, and large donors are all supporting the effort. We have a long way to go to reach our financial goals but every dollar counts to make sure I-940 qualifies.”
    • Gabe Meyer, Finance Director 
  • “This initiative creates policy that puts the preservation of life as the number one priority. We have worked hard to change the law in a way that is thoughtful so that both the community and law enforcement can support it. I-940 is long overdue and once we qualify, we will work with the legislature to pass it in 2018.”
    • Leslie Cushman, Policy Director 
  • “’None of us are free until all of us are free’, which is why Equal Rights Washington is excited to put our full resources behind making sure De-Escalate Washington’s Initiative 940 qualifies in 2017. It addresses a critical need in our state that will build systems for accountability and justice for all. I-940 will make all communities safer.”
    • Monisha Harrell, Campaign Leadership Team and Equal Rights WA Chair


De-Escalate Washington is a growing coalition that formed to address use of deadly force by police. The coalition includes families affected by fatal police shootings, attorneys, unions, and community organizations. The leadership team consists of: Not This Time, Latino Civic Alliance, Justice for Jackie, Puyallup Tribe, SEIU 775, SEIU 1199NW, Washington CAN, Disability Rights Washington, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, One America, Family Advisory Council, Equal Rights Washington, and Washington State Association for Justice. 







Contact: Leslie Cushman, 360-280-0087,





6-20-17.  De-Escalate WA, a growing coalition of families affected by fatal police shootings, organizations, Tribes, and advocates, has been working for the past 18 months to consider state-wide policing standards that would make our communities safer and stronger.


The fatal shooting of Charleena Lyles on Sunday underscores the urgency of our efforts to bring community and law enforcement together and work towards a solution that will make everyone in Washington safer, including: all people of color, people dealing with mental health conditions, people with disabilities, Native Americans, immigrants, refugees, LGBTQ individuals, youth, formerly incarcerated persons, people with low-incomes, and all who work in law enforcement.


De-Escalate WA will hold a press conference in the coming weeks to launch a state-wide initiative that begins to address these issues.


We send our deepest sympathy to the family of Charleena Lyles.


Andre Taylor, Not This Time (Chair)

Tim Reynon, Puyallup Tribal Council Member (Vice-Chair)

Heather Villanueva, SEIU 775 (Exec At-Large Member)

Chester Earl, Justice for Jackie (Exec At-Large Member)

Kim Mosolf, Disability Rights Washington (Secretary)

Leslie Cushman, Attorney (Policy Chair)

Nina Martinez, Latino Civic Alliance

Loretta Gutierrez-Sacks, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

Lisa Daugaard, Attorney

Chris Lampkin, SEIU 1199NW

Fe Lopez, One America

Xochitl Maykovich, Washington CAN





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