EVERETT — A Lake Stevens man told his wife he wanted police to kill him Sunday night, about an hour before he was shot to death by Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies under the U.S. 2 trestle, according to detectives.
The man hadn’t returned home after going bird hunting Sunday, according to a statement released by the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team, known as SMART. His wife told police around 8 p.m. that her husband had called her, saying he was suicidal and hoped for police to shoot him. He didn’t say where he’d gone.
Deputies found his truck around 9 p.m. under the trestle, said Kristin Banfield, a spokeswoman for SMART. The truck was parked in a gravel lot on Ebey Island, a popular spot for duck hunting east of Everett. At least three deputies converged on the lot.
“Deputies attempted to talk to the (man) and gave instructions for him to come out from behind his vehicle,” according to the statement from SMART. “The (man) was not compliant and came out holding what appeared to be a weapon. Deputies fired multiple shots.”
Minutes later, an Everett aid crew pronounced the man dead at the scene. He was 35. His identity hasn’t been released.
No one else was injured. All three deputies fired their duty firearms, Banfield said. A gun was recovered at the scene, according to the statement. Authorities haven’t said what kind of gun. So far, it’s not clear if the man fired any rounds, Banfield said.
The three deputies were put on administrative leave, a standard procedure in police shootings. They have 12, 10, and two years of experience. The deputy who has been on the force for 10 years is a sergeant.
“No officer, regardless of what agency, wants to ever take somebody else’s life,” sheriff’s Lt. Steve McDonald said Sunday night. “They will only pull that trigger as the very last resort.”
Some rural roads south of the trestle were closed as about 20 detectives examined the scene directly underneath the trestle, McDonald said. Those roads reopened around 4 a.m. In the meantime, the trestle remained open to traffic.
SMART draws detectives from agencies around the county to investigate all police shootings.
About a year ago Lake Stevens police shot Juan Salinas, 33, a former Army Ranger who had a knife, charged at officers and shouted, “Just kill me!” Months later, the use of deadly force was ruled justified by Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe.
Lynnwood police shot a sex offender, Chassady LeClair, 44, who had sent death threats to an ex-girlfriend in December 2016. An officer reported that LeClair refused commands to get on the ground, threw heavy metal balls at officers and charged at one of them. The shooting was found to be justified in November.
Roe found a deputy was “completely justified” in shooting a suicidal man, Millard Tallant, who aimed a pistol at him in May 2015 near Monroe. The man’s wife had called 911. The deputy confronted Tallant, 62, who was walking outside in the dark. He approached the deputy and pointed the gun. The deputy shot him in the chest. Tallant aimed his .380-caliber handgun at his own head and pulled the trigger. A little less than a year later, Roe announced the deputy acted within the law.
Some cases take longer.
A Snohomish County deputy shot Shawn Larson, 39, who had taped a .45-caliber Glock to his hand. The August 2009 shooting happened at the truck scales at Soper Hill Road and Highway 9. The same deputy had been involved in a police shooting weeks earlier. He’d been back on duty for about two weeks when he shot Larson, a youth sports coach. Larson’s actions that day baffled his family, who remembered him as caring and sensitive. Eighteen months later, prosecutors determined the deputy acted lawfully.
Not every fatal use of force in the county has been ruled justified. Roe filed murder charges against an Everett officer for a 2009 shooting. A jury acquitted the officer.
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snocaleb.