Off-duty trooper who killed trespasser taken to small claims court
April 8, 2011 · 12:47 PM
Seventy-one-year-old Marjorie Eley wants Washington State Patrol Trooper Jason Blankers to reimburse her for $5,011.20 in expenses associated with the death of her only grandson, Brent Bayliffe.
Blankers killed Bayliffe on Sept. 11, 2010, following an altercation in Blankers' driveway, prompting Eley to take him to small claims court to recover her expenses. The case is scheduled to be heard at 9 a.m. on Monday at the Kitsap County Courthouse.
“He made the debt. He needs to pay the debt,” said Eley, who plans to represent herself in her small claims court case.
Eley was visiting Bayliffe’s mother in Orlando, Fla., when she got the news that her grandson had died.
She booked an “emergency flight” back to Washington as quickly as she could, which ended up costing $452.
Blankers, she says, should pay for that.
Eley claims he also owes her $2,406.25 for “funeral services,” $1,477 for “interment,” $333 for “auto impound” costs, $80 on a death certificate, $13 on an autopsy report and $249 for jewelry Bayliffe wore at the time of his death.
“We paid those expenses. We paid everything,” she said.
Legally, though, she doesn’t have a right to the money, since she’s not the “personal representative” of Bayliffe’s estate, according to Blankers’ Memorandum to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Claims.
Bayliffe had no personal representative.
“(The) plaintiff cannot simply substitute her name for the personal representative,” according to the memorandum.
The Washington State Attorney General’s Office prepared the memorandum, and will provide legal representation for Blankers.
They argue that case should be dismissed without a hearing for several reasons.
For one, Eley filed her paperwork incorrectly.
Also, “the small claims court lacks jurisdiction,” over the case, they say, and it should be heard in Superior Court instead.
That matters, the Attorney General’s Office claims, because the Washington State Patrol could be held liable for Blankers’ actions.
Besides, “Jason Blankers committed no crime,” according to a Decline to Prosecute notice from the Kitsap County Prosecutor.
The notice details what happened that night.
“The Blankers’ dog began to bark some time between 11:25 and 11:27 on the evening of September 11, 2010,” according to the notice. “Mr. and Mrs. Blankers had retired for the evening and were awakened by the noise.”
Blankers got up and tried to figure out why the dog was barking.
“He saw an unfamiliar passenger car parked in his driveway with the interior lights on, containing at least one occupant,” according to the notice.
He got out of bed. Got dressed. Grabbed his gun and “went downstairs to investigate.”
“Mrs. Blankers waited in the apartment,” according to the notice.
Mr. Blankers went out to the car and asked Bayliffe what he was doing there.
“Bayliffe responded that he was looking for a friend, someone named Alfonso,” according to the notice.
Blankers kept his gun hidden and tried to figure out what Bayliffe was doing on his property.
“Without warning, Bayliffe left his car and struck Blankers in the head with a length of square pipe,” that he’d brought with him according to the notice. “The blow opened up a gash in Blankers’ forehead more than three inches long, and drove Blankers to his knees.”
At that point, Blankers told Bayliffe he was a law enforcement officer and showed his gun.
“Bayliffe continued his attack,” according to the notice. “The two struggled.”
Mrs. Blankers hear the ruckus, and “saw the two struggling, and heard her husband tell her to call 911.”
At 11:27 p.m., she placed the call, and at about 11:29 p.m., the dispatcher heard gunshots in the background.
Her neighbor, Susan Cassaro, called the 911 about 30 seconds later.
“She reported hearing two voices, one very agitated and screaming, ‘You’re gonna die,’ and ‘go ahead and call the police.’ ”
She hung up, and called back at 11:29:55 p.m. to “report hearing gunshots.”
Mrs. Bayliffe’s sister and brother-and-law, John and tara Bergford, live next-door and woke up to the sounds of the fight.
“Listening out a window, they determined that the trouble was at the Blankers' residence, dressed, and started running toward the sound of the struggle,” according to the notice.
Upon their arrival, they saw Blankers trying to stop the blood from flowing from his head wound, and pointing his gun at Bayliffe.
“Mr. Bergford, a firefighter in training, immediately began efforts to aid Bayliffe,” according to the notice.
His efforts were unsuccessful.
“Mr. Blankers fired three times, hitting Bayliffe twice,” the report said. “He and Bayliffe had grappled for several minutes after Bayliffe struck him with the pipe.”
Blankers knocked the pipe out of Bayliffe’s hands and got up on top of him.
“When Mr. Blankers relaxed for a moment to wipe the blood streaming from the gash in his head, Bayliffe broke free and scrambled along the ground toward the pipe,” according to the notice. “Mr. Blankers fired at Bayliffe to prevent another attack.”
Bayliffe’s wounds are consistent with Blankers’ story that he fired as Bayliffe tried to retrieve his weapon.
“One bullet struck Bayliffe in the top of the left shoulder and exited below his left armpit,” according to the notice. “The other bullet entered at the back of his right shoulder and traveled straight across his upper back, exiting at the back of his left shoulder.”
The Prosecutor’s Office ruled that Blankers “committed no crime.”
“It was entirely reasonsible for Mr. Blankers to fear further attack,” according to the notice. “Bayliffe did not respond coherently to any verbal inquiries or directions. He was agitated and yelling threats. He actively struggled with Mr. Blankers. The only reasonable conclusion was that if he had regained possession of his weapon he would try to use it again.”
But that’s not good enough for Eley.
She described Bayliffe as a, “loving son and Grandma’s joy,” who had been severely bullied and suffered from bi-polar disorder.
Eley said she sincerely believes her grandson had no intention of robbing Bayliffe that night, and it bothers her that he’d been shot in the back.
“They can dismiss me,” she said, “but I’ll keep screaming to the highest rafter.”