Officers in teen’s shooting expected to return to work

ARLINGTON — The two Arlington police officers who were involved in the Feb. 14 shooting of a 17-year-old girl are expected to return to work next week, city officials say.

The pair have completed preliminary interviews with detectives from the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team, which is investigating the shooting. The decision to return them to work is in keeping with department policies, Arlington city spokeswoman Kristin Banfield said.

The girl, whose name has not been publicly released, was shot in the chest and her lower right side. She initially was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, but has since been released.

Everett attorneys Pete Mazzone and Braden Pence are representing the girl and her family. They say she is a high school student who also is enrolled in community college courses, and “has no criminal history whatsoever.”

The shooting happened after police received 911 calls about a person lying in the middle of the road and screaming. There was some sort of disturbance involving the girl and her boyfriend, records show.

What happened next is the focus of the SMART investigation.

Mazzone and Pence said that nobody should draw conclusions based on early reports, and they are troubled by how police have released information so far.

“Repeated press releases from police investigators following the shooting claim that our client was armed with a knife and was advancing on the officers at the time she was shot,” the pair said in a prepared statement. “This and other important disputed claims have been presented in media reports as established fact. However, at least one eyewitness, who has given statements to police investigators and to our investigator, directly contradict(s) this claim.”

A knife was found at the scene, but it was some distance from where the girl reportedly was standing when shot, the lawyers said.

Police say the shots were fired after an attempt to subdue the girl with an electric shock from a stun gun proved ineffective.

Mazzone and Pence described the circumstances surrounding the shooting as both “disturbing and disputed.”

“We eagerly await the opportunity to review and audit the final police investigation once it is complete,” they said.

SMART is a group of detectives drawn from throughout the county to investigate incidents where police use deadly force. The team presents its findings to Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe, who decides whether anybody committed a potential crime.

The shooting has generated strong feelings. Some have publicly protested against police; others in support.

The girl is African American. The Snohomish County branch of the NAACP this week said the group is concerned the shooting may be part of what it called “escalating violence” involving people of color and religious minorities. The NAACP described the girl as “an excellent student and artist.”

It can take months before a SMART case is completed and forwarded to Roe for review. At that point, much of the investigation becomes public record.

Scott North: 425-339-3431; north@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snorthnews.

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