BOTHELL — A Bothell man may have been high on hallucinogenic mushrooms when he was fatally shot by a Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy outside an apartment building late last month.
The deputy fired multiple gunshots as Adam J. Smith, 26, reportedly walked toward an innocent bystander while clutching a screwdriver. He’d only minutes before stabbed another man in the face with the weapon, according to court papers.
Witnesses told investigators that Smith had become violent and erratic after he ate mushrooms. His girlfriend’s father reported that Smith didn’t seem to recognize anyone inside the apartment, Snohomish County sheriff’s detective Patrick VanderWeyst wrote in a search warrant. His girlfriend told investigators Smith “went crazy,” the detective wrote.
Smith lived with his pregnant girlfriend and her father at the Archstone Apartments off Bothell- Everett Highway.
Investigators were told that Smith punched his girlfriend’s father in the face several times and then stabbed him in the cheek with a screwdriver. Detectives noted blood and overturned and broken household items in the apartment.
The Dec. 31 shooting is under investigation by the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team, a task force of homicide detectives. Smith was the sixth person killed by police gunfire in Snohomish County in 2009.
All but one of those shootings remains under investigation. The June 10 shooting outside the Chuckwagon Inn resulted in a manslaughter charge against Everett police officer Troy Meade.
The deputy involved in the Bothell shooting, James Kunard Jr., remains on paid administrative leave. He has been a deputy sheriff for about two years and has not been involved in use-of-force investigation in the past, sheriff’s spokeswoman Rebecca Hover said.
Snohomish County prosecutors will decide if Kunard was legally justified in shooting Smith.
Sheriff’s deputies were first summoned to the apartment for a disturbance in the parking lot. While they were driving to the scene dispatchers reported a man had been stabbed with a screwdriver.
Deputy Kunard arrived at 1:22 a.m. Four minutes later he radioed to dispatchers that he was with three men in the parking lot and one was failing to obey orders. About a minute later Kunard reported that shots had been fired and one person was down, VanderWeyst wrote in the search warrant.
Other deputies arrived and found Kunard pointing his gun at two men lying on the ground. One was the dying Smith; the other was a tenant of the apartment building. The stabbing victim was kneeling on the ground nearby.
The tenant told investigators that he was inside his apartment when he heard a disturbance. He went outside and spoke with another tenant, who said his daughter’s boyfriend had just stabbed him in the face.
He said a man later identified as Smith walked by them and then up to an apartment. He had a screwdriver in his hand. He came back outside and still had the screwdriver in his hand.
The witness told investigators that the deputy arrived and began giving the man commands. Smith ignored the deputy and went inside a storage unit. He came back out and was holding the screwdriver in one hand and something else in the other.
The tenant said Smith walked toward him. He told investigators he felt threatened and attempted to get away but Smith closed on him.
The deputy continued yelling but Smith continued to ignore the commands.
The man said Smith got within three feet of him when the deputy, still yelling, began to shoot. The man heard two shots. Smith, still holding the screwdriver, remained on his feet, and looked at the deputy.
The witness told investigators Smith began advancing toward him again. He heard the deputy yell and then heard three more shots.
Paramedics tried to save Smith but he died inside an ambulance.
Investigators found a screwdriver outside, below the apartment Smith shared with his girlfriend. Police also found a broken cell phone on the ground outside a storage unit on the end of a garage.
Detectives also noted possible bullet holes or punctures holes in some of the garage doors near the apartment.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.