The Seattle Times
Seattle police released body-camera footage Thursday evening that showed officers fatally shoot a man while responding to a domestic-violence call Wednesday at a Lower Queen Anne apartment.
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the man as Ryan Matthew Smith, 31. He died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the office.
Four officers responded to an apartment in the 600 block of Third Avenue West around 7:20 p.m. Wednesday after a woman called 911 and said her boyfriend had a knife and was threatening to kill her, police said.
The graphic body-camera footage shows officers approaching the apartment and yelling for those inside to open the door. After officers kick down the door, a man can be seen inside, near the door. Police yell at him to put his hands up as he walks toward officers, holding what appears to be a knife. When the man continues to walk toward the police, two officers fire numerous shots as he falls to the floor.
The man was declared dead at the scene.
Police released a photo of the knife they say was recovered from the man. A ruler next to the knife shows the blade is around 3 inches.
Police also released audio from the 911 call, in which a sobbing woman can be heard telling an operator, “My boyfriend is trying to kill me.” The woman told the operator the man was armed with a knife and refused to leave the apartment. He tackled her before she managed to barricade herself in the bathroom, she said.
“I’ve been trying to get him to leave and he won’t leave,” she says. “He keeps telling me that he’s going to kill me with his knife out.”
The woman said police have been called to the apartment before.
She tells the operator that the man was scraping and pounding at the door of the bathroom.
“He’s waiting for the police to break the door down,” said the woman, who tells the operator her boyfriend has “always been suicidal.”
The woman was not injured, nor were any officers, according to Seattle police.
The department’s Force Investigation Team, crime-scene investigators, the Office of Police Accountability and the Inspector General are investigating.
At the request of Seattle police, the King County Sheriff’s Office is also conducting an independent review of the investigation per an agreement between the two departments. The informal agreement represents preliminary compliance with the spirit of Initiative 940, which passed in November and eliminates a legal barrier to prosecuting officers for alleged misuse of lethal force. A statewide protocol is still being developed to conduct independent investigations into police use of force.
In Wednesday’s fatal shooting, King County sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ryan Abbott said two sergeants and three detectives from the sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit responded to the scene and worked alongside their SPD counterparts. One detective, for instance, was temporarily embedded with SPD’s crime-scene investigations unit, he said. The job of the sheriff’s personnel is to keep abreast of the investigation as it happens and present their findings to SPD.
Wednesday’s shooting was the second fatal shooting this year involving Seattle police.
In February, officers responding to a domestic-violence incident fatally shot a man who moved toward them while waving a knife, steps from the body of a woman who had been decapitated. A man, a woman and two young children were found unharmed, hiding in another bedroom in the North Seattle apartment where the incident occurred.
Police released video of the incident from two officers’ body-worn cameras.
Seattle Times staff reporter Sara Jean Green contributed to this story.
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