LYNNWOOD — Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies acted lawfully June 19 when they fatally shot a Lynnwood-area man who first attacked them with fireworks, then refused to drop a handgun he pointed in their direction, an investigation has found.
Matthew Scott Wiese, 46, ignored repeated shouted commands to put down the weapon, which turned out to be a pellet gun that “had the appearance of a real firearm,” Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe said in a letter sent Monday to detectives, describing his reasons for not charging anyone in connection with the shooting.
“It is clear that Mr. Wiese was not intending to kill the deputies with a pellet gun (which he did not fire),” Roe wrote. “His age and experience certainly suggests, however, that he knew he would likely be shot walking towards police pointing it at them and ignoring commands to drop it. What is much less clear is his motivation; if he was indeed trying to provoke such a response.”
The confrontation that led to Wiese’s death came after deputies were called when Wiese reportedly violated a protection order. Deputies found the man at a home in the 15200 block of Meadow Road, just north of Martha Lake.
What happened next became the focus of an investigation by the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team, which examines police use of deadly force. Two detectives, one from Everett and another from Mukilteo, were assigned to lead the probe.
The first deputy on the scene reported that Wiese began shooting at him with Roman candle fireworks shells that delivered M-80-sized explosions. The deputy took cover behind his patrol car, but the blasts came close enough to burn his uniform’s sleeve, Roe wrote.
Backup arrived and the deputies came up with a plan to force Wiese into the open using tear gas.
As a deputy worked his way to the rear of the home the man came out with a handgun.
Audio recordings captured the deputies screaming at Wiese to drop the weapon. At one point he lowered it, but then raised it again and began walking toward deputies “arm extended, gun in hand,” Roe said.
Three deputies opened fire, hitting Wiese with five bullets. He was rushed to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, but died from his wounds.
Roe said he reviewed the results of the SMART investigation and met with Wiese’s family before announcing his decision that nobody should be charged in connection with the death.
The deputies actions “were clearly justified under the circumstances as they appeared at the time,” he wrote.
Scott North: 425-339-3431, firstname.lastname@example.org