The Seattle Police Department (SPD) released body cam footage late Thursday night of an officer-involved shooting that occurred Thursday morning near Northgate. The gruesome footage shows two SPD cops confronting a man armed with a knife inside an apartment before opening fire and fatally shooting him. Thoughout the whole scene a woman’s dead body appears to be laying between the officers and the now-deceased man.
This body cam footage is extremely disturbing.
The incident occurred around 3:30 a.m. Thursday morning at an apartment building near the intersection of Highway 99 and Northgate Avenue, according to a post on SPD’s blog. Body cam footage shows at least two officers kicking down an apartment door and confronting a man who appears to be walking back and forth inside the room. The officers order the man to get on the ground and, after first hesitating, the man lays face-first down on the floor, but fails to fully comply with commands and continues to erratically move.
The officers continue shouting commands at the man, repeatedly telling him: “We will shoot you.” After about two minutes, the man returns to his feet and appears to grab a knife and move closer to the cops, who are still standing in the doorway.
Both officers then shout “don’t do it” before they open fire on the man. It’s not clear how many shots were fired but the gunfire appears to be in two separate bursts, with some shots fired as the man is already laying on the ground screaming in pain.
During this entire scene a decapitated woman’s body lays on the floor between the man and the two officers.
Less than three minutes pass between when the officers confer with each other and kick down the door and the first shots are fired. At one point an officer says he is holstering his gun and is “going to grab him,” but the body cam video doesn’t appear to show any attempt at using a taser or tear gas to subdue the man.
The man, who police have not yet identified, was speaking to officers throughout the incident but the two parties were clearly unable to communicate with each other; at one point one officer says "I can’t understand what he’s saying," and starts yelling "policía," the Spanish word for police.
Representatives from SPD’s internal Force investigation Team, the Office of Police Accountability, and the Inspector General responded to the scene, and the King County Sheriff’s Office has launched it’s own independent investigation of the shooting, according to SPD’s blog. State law now requires independent investigations for all officer involved killings after voters approved I-940 last fall; SPD’s blog said the sheriff’s investigation meets that independent requirement.
The Seattle Police Officer's Guild (SPOG), the largest police union in the city, has already come out in support of the officers involved in Thursday morning's killing, telling the Seattle Times the cops had "no choice but to fire their weapons." The Times described this preemptive statement from SPOG as a "stark new direction by the union" after spending the last few years avoiding "reaching early conclusions on the use of force." Both SPD and Mayor Jenny Durkan's office told the Times that SPOG's immediate defense of the officers, which included details of the incident that had not been previously released, was inappropriate.