South Seattle – Posted on March 23, 2013 at 4:37 am
First hand account of Police Murder in South Seattle
From our friend Guy:
This morning, at 4:57 am, Bellevue SWAT assassinated an unarmed man directly in front of my house by firing 23 rounds into his body with automatic assault weapons. My three sleeping children and my wife were less than five degrees from the line of fire.
The Bellevue and Seattle Police claim that while attempting to deliver a warrant, the victim backed up and hit our neighbors’ truck and then put the car into drive and lurched forward and that is the reason that the eight person strong, fully armored and armed SWAT team opened fire.
This is not true. My neighbors and I have pictures to prove it.
The car hit the truck with such force in reverse that later the tow truck had to pry the vehicles apart. Furthermore, we live on a dead-end street and the SWAT tank was behind the truck that the victim backed into and blocked the only exit from this block ( I could clearly see this through my window).
There was no where for this dude to go in his car and the SWAT would have clearly known that. The victim was on his way to work, had violated his parole and panicked when approached by SWAT and hit the gas in reverse, at which point the SWAT team opened fire.
Following the explosion of gun fire, the SPD gave us no information, only yelling “stay in your homes” which of course I ignored and evacuated my family with no assistance from our “protectors”.
Immediately after the killing, my children were screaming, “I don’t want to die” as the SWAT continued their assault with percussion grenades on the vacant house while the victim bled to death on the street.
This is outrageously blatant misconduct and this block of supportive neighbors has pictures and we have a voice… this operation was conducted on a densely populated residential street where over ten children and their families live. The Bellevue police and the SPD put my family in the line of fire.
[Editor’s Note: Any additional photos emphasizing the truth of what happened are welcome here and will be posted.]
But accounts from neighbors differ. They say this was an oversize police response that made them feel endangered, and they don’t think the suspect was endangering officers.
Guy Davis, who says the shooting “happened directly in front of my house,” contacted The Stranger. He says that the police and media have portrayed this as a man who was trying to run down police officers and posed an immediate threat. But in his view, the suspect was basically trapped in his car after crashing it so hard into the truck behind it that later, a “tow truck had to pry the vehicles apart,” and that he couldn’t have escaped, since the street’s only entrance was blocked. As he sees it, police shot a sitting duck. (He sent us the photo above, which he says shows those two cars stuck together. The suspect was driving the car on the right.) He wants the neighborhood’s side of the story to get out. “It’s a dead-end block,” he says. “We have a block e-mail list, we all know each other, we have block hangouts.” He feels like “the Bellevue police and the SPD put my family in the line of fire,” bringing a SWAT team into their residential neighborhood and spraying a car with multiple rounds far too close to where Davis, his wife, and their three children were sleeping.
It doesn’t appear that the suspect was armed (police haven’t mentioned a weapon), and Davis says the car was stuck and couldn’t have driven toward officers. He’s been posting firsthand accounts of the shooting on Facebook, at least one of which was forwarded widely and read on KEXP last night by Street Sounds DJ (and Stranger writer) Larry Mizell Jr.
Sergeant Sean Whitcomb, reached for comment, says he’s heard some of Davis’s account via Twitter, including the part about the tow truck. He says he “specifically talked to Homicide” today to clarify that part of the story, and was told that “the information we released [on Friday] was correct.” The suspect “did go forward with such velocity again that he struck a second car,” and was shot while driving forward, says Whitcomb. After the shooting, the car “rolled into the truck” again, and if it looked like a tow truck later pried them apart, it was likely because they were being “very careful” with evidence, he says.
UPDATE Tues, 3/26, 2:10 p.m.: Davis says he believes he may have gotten it wrong that a tow truck pried the two cars apart, and other neighbors have said that’s not what happened. But Davis and others say they remain unsure how the car could have rolled perfectly back into alignment with the original collision after going far enough forward to strike another car.
Another resident who lives one street away, Jocelyn Savage, also contradicted the official version of events, calling the shooting “a horrific incident” and saying that media reports so far had “failed to include some very disturbing details.” Reached by phone, Savage says she and her husband woke to loud gunfire that morning, followed about 10 minutes later by explosions that rocked their home—those turned out to be percussion grenades thrown in a house police thought contained another suspect. That house turned out to be empty.
Savage says reports she’s read don’t mention “how horribly violent that was, and how much force was used.” Without any contact from police, they “had no idea on God’s green earth what was happening,” and were trapped in their house for hours. She reiterates Davis’s feeling of an overwhelming police response that terrified neighbors.
I’ve tried to get a copy of a police report, but SPD is now investigating the officer-involved shooting for the Bellevue Police, and that investigation is ongoing and not yet public. Meanwhile, the BPD hasn’t responded to requests for comment or a copy of the police report. Neighborhood residents are meeting with an SPD representative tonight to talk about what happened.
Mainstream Press Account:
From: Seattle Times
The man who was fatally shot by Bellevue SWAT officers in South Seattle on Friday morning was a suspected robber who was attempting to run down officers with his car, according to Seattle police.
The suspect, who has not been publicly identified, was in his car at his brother’s house near South Hudson Street and 42nd Avenue South around 5 a.m. when Bellevue SWAT officers arrived to serve a warrant, Seattle police said.
Seattle police, who are investigating the officer-involved shooting, said that as SWAT officers approached the residence they noticed one of the men they were looking for was in the driver’s seat of a Mercedes-Benz parked in the driveway.
“The suspect noticed the SWAT officers, too,” according to a news statement released by Seattle police. “He put the car in reverse and backed up with such velocity and disregard that he struck a parked Ford F-250 pickup truck and pushed it several yards into the street.”
Bellevue officers gave numerous commands for the suspect to stop, but the man switched the car into drive and stepped on the gas, police said.
Three Bellevue officers who fired their weapons were afraid the suspect would “drive them over rather than surrender,” Seattle police said.
The three officers, who have not been named, have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure after a police shooting.
Seattle police said one of the Bellevue officers fired a handgun and the two others fired rifles.
The wounded man was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where he died, police said.
Police said there was no one inside the house, but the suspect’s brother was questioned. Once it was determined the brother was not a suspect and was legally carrying a firearm, he was allowed to leave with the gun, according to Seattle police spokeswoman Renee Witt.
According to Bellevue police spokeswoman Carla Iafrate, SWAT officers were attempting to serve warrants on the suspect’s residence and vehicle in connection with a series of robberies in Bellevue and other jurisdictions.
She said it’s common for officers to work in other areas and that while Bellevue SWAT was leading the operation, Seattle police detectives were standing by to question the suspects.
She did not release additional information on Friday about the robberies or any other suspects, except to say there had been at least three robberies.
Juli and John Russell, who live across the street from the suspect’s brother’s home, said they were startled by gunfire, police yelling commands on a loudspeaker and the sight of a man’s body on their street.
“Early this morning, we heard gunshots outside of our house. A lot of voices, yelling, at like 5 in the morning,” said Juli Russell, a graphic designer.
“I was up already, and when I looked out the window, my husband and I saw a car crash into another car, a Bellevue SWAT vehicle and a body that was shot.”
Neighbor David Keyes said, “We hunkered down on the floor in the bedroom and tried to stay safe. We knew this was not kids messing around with fireworks at 5 in the morning.”
He said police evacuated them from their home about a half-hour later.