A Seattle Police Department (SPD) cop shot and killed a man in North Seattle on New Years Eve, according to the department. The officer shot the man with a handgun following a traffic stop on Highway 99 in the city’s Licton Springs neighborhood, according to SPD’s blog.
Sean Whitcomb, an SPD spokesperson, declined to answer questions about the incident on Tuesday but said the city would soon release a second round of information.
SPD’s first release said the man ran from officers after SPD cops pulled him over in a traffic stop at around 5 p.m. Monday on Aurora Avenue North and North 96th Street. Officers ended up in a physical struggle with the man when he, according to SPD, pulled out a handgun. The SPD cop pulled out his own handgun and fired on the man. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.
SPD’s initial release did not say how many shots the SPD cop fired or if the officer had attempted to use any less lethal options, like a taser or pepper spray.
An SPD spokesperson told the Seattle Times that the deceased man was “around 30” and had run across four lanes of traffic before he was killed by SPD. SPD closed both directions of Highway 99 Monday night and King 5’s news helicopter captured footage of police tape surrounding what appeared to be the man’s vehicle, parked in front of a convenience store.
SPD has not indicated if any of the involved officers were wearing body-worn cameras during the incident. The department has been slowly implementing body-worn cameras across the city. An SPD website indicates that officers in the North Precinct, where Monday’s shooting took place, are second in line to receive body-worn cameras.
Two of the city’s police accountability organizations, the Office of Inspector General and Office of Police Accountability, were brought to the scene of the killing Monday night to observe the police department’s own investigation. But the third leg of the city’s police accountability system, the Seattle Community Police Commission (CPC), is warning that the investigation might not be meeting the state’s legal requirements. The CPC released a statement Tuesday afternoon claiming that SPD’s internal investigation unit did not meet the legal requirements of the recently passed Initiative 940.
Initiative 940, passed by voters in November, requires independent investigations anytime a cop kills someone. The initiative also made it easier for prosecutors to charge cops with crimes when they unjustly kill someone. The initiative’s explanatory statement said that “the investigation would be done by someone other than the agency whose officer was involved in the use of deadly force.” The city’s investigation process currently involves an internal SPD group called the Force Investigation Unit.