TEAM SWFA - Admin
Amazing shot cited as self-defense
By HECTOR CASTRO
A highly improbable shot left an officer's bullet in the cylinder of a gunman's revolver, and police say it's a pretty clear sign that the officers who shot the man faced a deadly threat.
"Physically, it is impossible to conclude anything other than the fact the suspect was pointing directly at the officers," Deputy Chief Clark Kimerer said Wednesday, adding, "I've not seen anything quite like that in my 24 years."
The shooting happened just after 8:15 p.m. near the corner of Broadway East and East John Street on Capitol Hill.
At a news conference at police headquarters Wednesday, Kimerer said investigators learned that the gunman had had an argument with a female friend shortly before the shooting.
Afterward, Kimerer said, the young man walked down Broadway and got into a fight with another man. At some point, a gun he was carrying fell to the ground.
Kimerer said the gunman simply reholstered the weapon behind his back.
A merchant called 911, as did others.
Two East Precinct patrol officers arrived in less than two minutes, he said.
The two officers approached the young man near a bus stop. Though the man was suspected of being armed, the officers did not see a weapon, so at first they planned to restrain him.
When the man turned to face them, the officers ordered him to get on the ground and show his hands.
The warning, Kimerer said, was heard by several witnesses.
Instead of complying, "the suspect reached behind his back with both hands," he said.
Out came a revolver, police officers said.
The officers ordered the man to drop the gun. Instead, police said, he squared up against them. "The officers returned fire in response to that deadly threat," Kimerer said.
Both officers, armed with Glock .40 caliber semi-automatic handguns, fired. One fired four shots; the second, three shots.
One of those bullets ended up in the gunman's gun -- jammed into the cylinder of his revolver. The department released photos Wednesday showing the cracked brass of a bullet shoved out of the rear of one chamber.
Fire medics arrived but were unable to revive the man.
Investigators have learned from at least one witness that the man had said earlier in the evening that he would draw his weapon if confronted by police. Police had said earlier that he was recently released from a substance abuse treatment center, but Wednesday Kimerer said he could not confirm that.
Seattle police officers are dealing more and more with people experiencing mental health crises. Partly in response to this, all officers now routinely attend an eight-hour seminar on crisis intervention.
Statistics the department maintains on incidents of Taser use bear out that patrol officers are seeing many cases of subjects with some type of impairment. In its most recent report, in January, the department noted that of the 800-plus incidents of Taser use in 2001, 72 percent of the subjects encountered were impaired by alcohol of drugs or were mentally ill.
Both officers involved in Tuesday's shooting have been placed on administrative leave.
Kimerer praised the officers for their courage in taking on an armed man, and for their tactical skill in preventing any other injuries. He also said officers were grateful for the amount of help provided by people at the scene.
Detectives will continue to investigate the background of the young man, but determining a motive may prove difficult. "We may never know exactly what happened," Kimerer said.