An attorney for the man’s family, who had been seeking video of the fatal encounter ever since it happened, said Thursday that the officer’s actions appeared to escalate a situation that didn’t need to be deadly.
One of two videos captured by home security cameras provides a clear view of the shooting of Juan Rene Hummel Jr., 25, who died from multiple gunshots later that same day at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
His family has raised questions about the events leading up to the July 29 shooting. Hummel had a history of mental health issues, including schizophrenia, according to a GoFundMe page created to help with funeral expenses. He walked with a limp because of a spinal condition.
Everett attorney Braden Pence, who represents the family, said Hummel was wearing headphones when he died, and that no verbal warnings were given. Pence said he has concerns after reviewing the video.
“The video shows an officer rapidly chasing Rene down in an unmarked SUV, recklessly jumping out of the car to confront Rene, and fatally shooting him without hesitation,” Pence wrote.
The pair of videos were posted Thursday on YouTube after Bothell Police Chief Kenneth Seuberlich made a public records request for them, said Julie Moore, spokesperson for the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team, a task force of detectives who investigate police use of force. Pence had been trying to see the video for months. The Bothell Police Department did not immediately respond to a reporter’s call.
The public release is a rare departure for SMART, which generally stays silent on investigations until they’re complete. Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell, who reviews SMART cases and decides whether to pursue charges against police involved, was consulted about whether to release the videos.
According to preliminary details provided to the public, officers were responding around 7:30 p.m. to reports of a man — reportedly Hummel — slashing tires near 228th Avenue SE and 20th Avenue SE. Pence, the family’s lawyer, questions whether the reports were accurate.
The first video shows Hummel running up a street and glancing over his shoulder. He stops when an unmarked patrol vehicle comes into view, emergency lights flashing.
Hummel takes something out of his pocket and appears to be unfolding it. The officer pulls up next to him and gets out of his vehicle. Hummel charges at him, with something in his hand. The officer fires. Hummel falls.
The encounter is over in a few seconds. There’s no audio with the video and no indication of any verbal exchange before the shooting.
In the 15-minute video, the officer takes up a position behind his vehicle after Hummel falls to the pavement. Two minutes pass before backup patrol cars arrive. One officer kicks something away from Hummel — presumably the knife — and then picks it up. Later she’s seen handing over the object to another officer, who tosses it on the ground and takes a picture of it.
An officer starts chest compressions about three minutes after Hummel was shot. Eventually medics arrive and take over. After more than 10 minutes of CPR, Hummel is taken away on a gurney.
For much of the video, the officer who shot Hummel stands by his patrol vehicle, watching the scene.
The second video, which also was shared with no audio, doesn’t have a view of the shooting. It only shows a man walking his dog, one of the backup patrol vehicles arriving and an officer setting up police tape.
In a statement, Pence wondered if there were other ways the officer could have handled the situation.
“Was it necessary for the officer to aggressively chase Rene down in an unmarked car? Was it threatening to stop the vehicle so close to Rene? Was it reckless to jump out of the vehicle? Were other methods available to the officer? Would Rene still be alive if those methods had been attempted?” Pence wrote. “Rene’s family is anxious to have these questions answered.”
The officer who fired his weapon was placed on administrative leave, standard practice in police shootings. The incident happened less than two weeks after Bothell officer Jonathan Shoop, 32, died in a brief shootout with a suspect. Shoop was killed by friendly fire.
According to court papers, Hummel had a home address about a quarter-mile south of the scene of the deadly shooting. Pence said he was on the route of a walk he took often.
Moore, the SMART spokesperson, said the investigation is ongoing and there are few details she can share until it is completed and forwarded to the prosecutor’s office. Detectives were still waiting for evidence to be processed at the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab.
A lawsuit hasn’t been filed in the shooting, but Pence said it is under consideration. A march and candlelight vigil in memory of Hummel is set for 2 p.m. on Jan. 30 — six months and a day after his death. It will start at Stipek Park.
“He wasn’t always fully there or able to function the way we could, but we know who he truly was deep down,” the family wrote on the GoFundMe page. “He was loving, playful, selfless, encouraging, tech-savvy, fun and cared so much for the people closest to him.”