There’s an interesting case developing out of Washington state today where what may be a lawful shooting by a Lynnwood police officer… or it may have gone over the line into a deliberate police homicide.
A man carrying a knife who allegedly walked into a carpet store and made reference to ISIS was shot and killed by police in the middle of State Route 99 Monday morning.
Police say at about 9:30 a.m., a white man in his 20s walked into Western Carpet Center. The owner, David Schultz, said the man referenced ISIS and was talking about people being armed.
“Spoke something about how he knows we’re trying to kill him and his parents, and that was pretty much all I needed,” said Schultz. “I came around the corner and called 911.”
Everett police say officers arrived and confronted the man who began running in and out of traffic on Highway 99. Police say they surrounded him and told him to put down the knife, but he advanced on them.
“The guy had one knife in the hand,” said Maximo Ramirez Vasquez, who witnessed the shooting. “I can’t remember right or left.”
A witness shot video that was obtained by KING 5. The officers are heard telling the man repeatedly to drop the knife, but he would not do it. Then six shots are heard in slow succession.
Officer Aaron Snell, with the Snohomish County’s Multi-Agency Response Team, said three officers surrounded the suspect, but only one of them fired his weapon. He is a 3-year veteran with Lynnwood Police, and is now on paid administrative leave.
Here’s what I’m not able to reconcile. This is a copy of a bystander’s (poorly) filmed view of the incident, and it doesn’t match up with the description of events reported by the media as much as I’d like.
The incident doesn’t seem to show a man darting in and out of traffic.
It shows police surrounding what appears to be a dark-colored Volkswagen hatchback. The driver’s side door opens, and someone wearing a red shirt or coat steps out and stands straight up.
Officer immediately reposition. There’s an officer to the far left of frame in a firing position, a smaller, presumably female officer between the two squad cars to the right of the Volkswagen with her weapon at the low ready, and the officer who has moved the most, from behind the Volkswagen to a position in front of the police car in the right of the photo, his weapon at the low ready. There’s a gunshot, and the man in the red shirt/jacket seems to immediately wilt to the ground. The officer to the left has to have fired, as neither of the other officers have their pistols raised.
Our amateur cameraperson reacts violently to the steady sound of gunfire. What we can see is that the officer on the left is still aiming at the man he appears to have already shot once. He will methodically fire shots at an eerily slow and steady pace, while neither of the other officers are raising their guns at all.
The last clear picture we have before the camera almost loses sight of the incident as it swings left is that the officer is still aimed at the man in the red, who has been obscured by the Volkswagen from the time the first shot was fired and he appears to drop.
As the camera swings back right again, the wounded man moves forward and is obscured by a digital blur thanks to censors at the television station. The same officer is still bearing down on his front sight and methodically firing. The same two other officers refuse to engage and have their weapons at the low ready.
Something going on behind the blur has our firing officer back away while still firing, as the officer who was in front of the car now moves in front of the female officer.
The camera dips again, as Officer Happy Finger squeezes off his final shot. Red shirt, still obscured by the blur, still doesn’t appear to be moving very far from his original position behind the front door of the Volkswagen. The video ends.
I am having a hard time reconciling the claims that the man was advancing on officers which forced them to open fire, when the video suggests he was standing in a stationary position when the first bullet was fired. Further, the man didn’t seem to move any appreciable distance as the other five bullets were slowly and methodically doled out over a period of long seconds. I’m further surprised that this officer kept firing, when neither of the other officers saw a need to raise their firearms.
Why did he see a lethal force threat justifying the slow and methodical firing of his weapon over a long period of seconds, when the other two officers on scene did not see a threat that would even make them take aim?
We simply don’t have enough evidence from this video to prove that this was a bad or unlawful police shooting, but there is enough here to cast doubt on the narrative that the man in the red shirt was advancing on officers when he was shot. The cadence of fire and the body language of the other officers also suggest to me that this man was not an immediate threat, but was a target that one officer alone decided to take his time engaging in a very slow and deliberate rhythm.
This is a case worth watching.