Man sues Auburn after police commit hit-and-run in Federal Way

The lawsuit alleges the city is responsible for the victim’s injuries.

In the spring of 2020, Auburn police officer Kenneth Lyman was driving a SWAT vehicle in Federal Way when he crashed the SWAT vehicle into a stopped box truck, according to police records.

Instead of pulling over and assessing the damage, as the law requires, Lyman broke the law and drove away from the scene, according to police records.

Peter Manning, the victim of Lyman’s hit-and-run, is now suing the city of Auburn for damages.

On the afternoon of May 15, 2020, Manning, who works as a landscaper, was finishing up his day of work with his nephew. They were driving on Southwest Campus Drive near South 348th Street in Federal Way, on their way to the jobsite to deliver some bark, when Manning heard sirens coming from behind, Manning said.

He pulled his employer’s Ford Econoline box truck onto the shoulder and a police cruiser drove past. Seconds later, Manning and his nephew were thrown toward the dash before being stopped by their seatbelts, Manning said.

“They were doing about 40 mph, the cop car shook the truck we were in,” Manning said. “Then the (SWAT) van tried to get past us and smacked us right in the back, clipped our rear bumper and the rear mirror, veered to the left, hit the sidewalk and then bounced back into us and sideswiped the length of the car.”

To Manning’s surprise, the police vehicle didn’t stop. No officers came to check on him and his nephew. The officer behind the wheel just kept driving, Manning said. Manning drove down the street to see if maybe the police had pulled over somewhere just out of sight, but they were gone.

At that point, Manning called 911 and told the dispatcher a SWAT van had just hit his truck and fled the scene. The dispatcher accused Manning of prank calling them, saying police wouldn’t do that, and hung up, Manning said. Manning called back and insisted he was telling the truth, and that he would come down to the station to make a report.

Manning initially filed a police report with Federal Way police, who told him it was an Auburn SWAT truck that hit him. A day or two later, he was called by an Auburn SWAT officer and interviewed by the officer for an incident report.

Not only did the crash damage the truck Manning was driving, but he suffered physical injuries as well.

In the days after the crash, Manning said the left side of his chest bruised over and his shoulder began hurting badly. He ended up going to several doctors following the crash and needed months of physical therapy, but he still isn’t 100% healed, Manning said.

When Manning filed a claim with the Department of Labor and Industries for getting injured on the job, he learned Federal Way police had thrown out his initial police report, Manning said. Without a police report, he was unable to make a claim, and Manning had to return to work with an injured shoulder, Manning said. The Auburn Reporter has reached out to the Federal Way Police Department to verify whether such records exist.

An internal investigation into the collision led by Auburn Police Cmdr. Steve Stocker found that Officer Kenneth Lyman committed three counts of “actual misconduct” stemming from his hit-and-run, according to police records. The offenses Lyman committed include a misdemeanor crime, conduct unbecoming and violating the department’s vehicle safety policy.

Despite finding Lyman was in violation of both state law and the Auburn Police Department’s policies when he injured Manning, Manning hasn’t received any restitution from the city. In fact, during the internal investigation, the police who were involved claimed there were no injuries stemming from the collision, despite the fact they fled from the scene.

During the internal investigation, Stocker interviewed Auburn police officer Brandon Skeen, who was responding to the same call as Lyman, according to police records. Skeen said Lyman admitted to hitting the box truck, but that he knew there were no injuries.

“[Lyman] knows that he didn’t strike any passenger type compartment so he, you know, he knows there is no damage to anyone,” Skeen said. “No one is injured and so [Lyman] was like, I’m going to a callout so, I’m going to proceed to this callout.”

Far from suffering no injuries like Lyman claimed, Manning racked up $20,000 in medical bills because of the injuries he suffered from the hit-and-run, Manning said. In addition to this, he wasn’t able to take on the same duties at work because of his shoulder injury, which resulted in a cut in pay.

“My shoulder still hurts to this day, and that’s no exaggeration,” Manning said.

When Manning initially went to the hospital for his injuries, he told the hospital staff he had sexual relations with a woman a few days prior to the crash. In May 2021, Washington Cities Insurance Authority, the company representing the Auburn Police Department, sent a letter, reviewed by the Auburn Reporter, warning that if Manning took the case to court, records of this sexual encounter would be public and his wife would be able to see. In the same letter the company subsequently offered to settle out of court for $1,000.

Manning is not and was not married at the time of the collision.

“When they came back and they tried to blackmail me, exposing my sexual encounter to my imaginary wife, I decided to file the lawsuit,” Manning said.

The same insurance company paid $1,109.90 for the damages done to the truck, which Manning said he saw as an admission of guilt.

Manning ended up filing a lawsuit against the city on Jan. 21, 2022.

The lawsuit, filed in the King County Superior Court, alleges Manning was injured and damaged by the negligent and willful actions of the Auburn SWAT team for which the City of Auburn and the Auburn Police Department are liable.

On Feb. 3, 2022, the City of Auburn offered Manning a settlement of $7,500. Manning said he’s moving forward with the lawsuit and seeking at least $100,000 in relief from the city.

“I declined. I’m not going to take that,” Manning said. “My hospital bills were $20,000.”

A spokesperson with the Auburn Police Department declined to comment for this story. Mayor Nancy Backus also declined to comment. The Auburn Reporter will follow up on this story.