Lawsuit filed against security guard charged with murder, company
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The family of a man who police said was gunned down by a security guard has filed a lawsuit against the guard and his employer.
Thomas Stanfield’s family admitted he had his problems. However, they don’t believe he had to die because of them.
“Tom had problems with addiction,” said his brother, Grant Stanfield. “He was going to make another effort to get his life back on track.”
Thomas Stanfield, age 54, was homeless and often stayed at the Road Home shelter in downtown Salt Lake City.
His family claimed he was looking for work and wanted to be first in line at the Utah Department of Workforce Services building to try and find help.
That was this past Wednesday, June 20.
However, at about 5:30 a.m., Stanfield was approached by Timothy Lutes, a private security guard.
Officials from the Salt Lake City Police Department, looking at so far unreleased surveillance video of the incident, said Lutes shined a flashlight in Stanfield’s eyes and was aggressive, causing the two to start fighting.
Police also said Stanfield tried walking away several times, but Lutes kept confronting him, ultimately shooting and killing him.
Connie Elison, Stanfield’s mother, has now filed a wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit against Lutes and the company he worked for, Citadel Security.
“I’m a mother, and unless you’re a mother, you don’t know how much your children mean to you,” said Elison. “I just couldn’t believe what happened that day and I’m still in shock over it, that they’d pull a gun out and shoot.”
The family’s attorney, Robert Sykes, said Lutes and Citadel Security were, “highly negligent.”
“It’s unbelievable that Mr. Lutes would pull a gun on somebody who is, let’s say napping. Sleeping in a public place not causing any harm and kill him,” said Sykes. “What we know about Mr. Lutes is he had a number of problems. We don’t think you should hire someone who has a lot of problems, give him a gun, and post him at a place where he can interact with the public.”
Sykes would not go into details about what those problems might be.
“We believe this man was probably not vetted completely and should not have been hired and given a gun,” said Sykes.
Lutes was arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County jail.
Formal charges were filed against him Tuesday afternoon.
“You know, in our country, it’s been a continuing issue – excessive force. This isn’t the first time we’ve dealt with something like this,” said Grant Stanfield, who served 25 years in the military and is now an admissions officer with the University of Utah.
“Yes, I believe my son was murdered,” said Elison. “I want justice. That’s what I want.”
The Department of Workforce Services said there were no services available to the homeless at the location where Stanfield was. It’s more of an administration building.
When contacted, Citadel Security did not want to comment on the lawsuit.
A woman who answered their phone said no manager was available to speak, but that they wouldn’t have any comments during the ongoing investigation.
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