Family of Chiefstick suing Poulsbo over his shooting death

The family of Stonechild Chiefstick filed a lawsuit against the city of Poulsbo in federal court today, almost two years after his death at the hands of a Poulsbo police officer.

The lawsuit alleges negligence on the part of the city in addition to inadequate officer training and use of excessive force. The family is set to give a news conference later today in Suquamish. The lawsuit comes just two days before the second anniversary of the shooting death of Chiefstick at Poulsbo’s annual Independence Day celebration.

Chiefstick, 39, was a member of the Cree Tribe but had ties to the Suquamish through his children. Chiefstick was shot and killed by officer Craig Keller in front of a crowd of people waiting for the annual fireworks show at Muriel Iverson Waterfront Park on July 3, 2019.

The incident sparked a number of local protests as well as weeks of extended public comment during City Council meetings, calling for Keller to be prosecuted and fired from the police department. Keller was placed on paid leave for over a year before being reinstated in August of 2020 after being cleared of charges by Kitsap County Prosecutor Chad Enright.

The incident and the outcome of the investigation have shattered the close ties the city held with the tribe. Over the last year, the city has worked to repair that relationship and committed to addressing racial injustice as well as increased police training.

The city has yet to make a comment on the lawsuit, though in September it expressed support for a permanent memorial of Chiefstick at the park. Chiefstick’s family started a Gofundme for the memorial called “Healing of the People.” The goal is $100,000 and over $5,000 has been raised.