On Sunday, Seattle police shot and killed Che Taylor, a black man from Seattle who was well-known in the community and deeply beloved, Seattle-King County NAACP President Gerald Hankerson said this morning.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he has one of the biggest funerals in Seattle," he said.
The SPD has not released any information about the victim of yesterday's shooting, except to describe him as a "known felon who was clearly armed." Police said they encountered him after a call about a suspicious car in Wedgewood.
"The man refused commands from the officers, who then fired at him," the Seattle Times reports. He was injured by a gunshot wound to the upper body and died at Harborview Medical Center.
Q13 FOX described Taylor as a "wanted" felon, but a SPD spokesperson said this morning that description is "inaccurate." The spokesperson said he couldn't release any more information about the shooting.
Hankerson decried the way some reports "are demonizing him as an armed felon... They've already depicted him as a monster."
Police chief Kathleen O'Toole called Hankerson last night. Hankerson said she told him a gun was "'in reach'... which indicates to me that a gun was not in his hand." Another member of the local NAACP, Sheley Secrest, said O'Toole told her the same thing, and that the chief promised to share dashcam video of the shooting by the end of Monday. The department has made a practice of releasing videos of officer-involved shootings within a day.
"It doesn't add up," Hankerson said. "We know him as someone who is not a gun toter... My entire community right now is so outraged. There's so many more questions than answers."
Taylor celebrated last New Year's Eve with Hankerson. They've known each other for nearly thirty years. "He was a handsome gentleman who lived life to the fullest," he said. "He's well known, well loved... this is personal."
They spent time in prison together (Hankerson freed after spending 22 years behind bars for an aggravated murder charge after key witnesses in his case recanted). Taylor got out about one year ago after about twenty years in prison, Hankerson said.
Andre Taylor, Che's brother, posted a tearful video to Facebook mourning the loss of his brother.
"They killed my little brother in Seattle," Taylor said. "That was my heart."
"I was already distraught about all the killings," he said. "Officers are trained to shoot to kill, especially if it's a black man. They have no regard for life."
Hankerson said Andre Taylor and Che's mother arrived at Sea-Tac airport this morning. Hankerson was on his way to meet them. More information as we get it.
UPDATE 12:27 p.m.: Taylor's convictions in King County included four counts of first-degree robbery, first-degree rape, unlawful possession of a firearm, a drug offense, and two counts of second-degree assault, according to the state Department of Corrections. In its latest report, the Seattle Times grants anonymity to a mysterious person only described as "the source" to speculate about Taylor engaging in a drug deal before his death, and talks to no one from his family or the Seattle-King County NAACP.
It shouldn't be necessary to remind readers that a criminal record—no matter how long or heinous—does not remotely give the police license to kill a person. If the SPD is to demonstrate consistency in its claims to be newly transparent, it must release whatever video or audio evidence is available of the shooting itself within the next few hours.
UPDATE 1:32 p.m.: SPD has released one dashcam video from the scene.