SEATTLE – A police officer who fired a fatal shot at a knife-wielding shoplifting suspect testified Friday in the David John Walker inquest.
Walker was shot and killed April 12 as he walked down a street near the Seattle Center, waving a knife. Officers had responded to a report that he had shoplifted a drink carton from a grocery store, then fired two shots at a security guard. By the time police arrived, Walker had stowed the gun in his pack.
Officer Tommie Doran told the inquest jury at the King County Courthouse he saw Walker with a knife and heard other officers telling the man to drop the weapon. He said he shot Walker because he was trying to protect himself and others.
"I just thought this has got to stop," he said. "We’re taking too many chances here."
If "some innocent civilian is taken hostage or attacked or killed, then I’m failing in my job," he said.
Doran said the shooting was one of the most traumatic experiences of his life.
"I knew I was being watched by the world and I stand by my decision to shoot," he said, referring to the presence of TV cameras at the time.
King County Executive Ron Sims convened the inquest to determine the facts of the shooting.
Walker’s family has filed a $5 million claim against the city. Relatives say Walker was shot because he was black; they want to know why less violent methods were not used to stop him. Lawyers for the family say police violated Walker’s civil rights.
The inquest will not address that issue directly. It is being held to determine whether the shooting of Walker was justified under the circumstances.
The case is expected to go to the inquest jury Monday.
Leeches latch onto swimmers: An icky problem has presented itself in Lake Wilderness: leeches. The King County park is one of the busiest in the area and swimmers are emerging from the water to find leeches stuck to their feet and legs. Park officials say leeches have never been a problem before and they’re uncertain as to why they are now. Leeches are blood-sucking worms that are not dangerous but are a nuisance. Warning signs are posted and will remain up through the end of the summer.
Troopers to target I-90 speeders: The State Patrol plans to crack down on speeders this weekend on I-90 east of here. The action is in response to a surge in complaints from motorists who feel extreme speeders are causing a hazard. The State Patrol will use patrol cars, motorcycle units and airborne units for the crackdown.
Policeman on leave for alleged misconduct: A policeman has been arrested for investigation of official misconduct and false reporting. The officer, a 21-year veteran of law enforcement, was arrested and placed on administrative leave June 29, according to interim Federal Way Police Chief Thomas Chaney. The criminal investigation was forwarded to the King County prosecutor’s office for review. The case involves a woman who was cited for shoplifting. The policeman, 44, is accused of attempting to solicit sex from her in exchange for favors, KIRO-TV reported. He was taken into custody during a sting operation.
From The Herald’s news services
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