Friends and neighbors of a 19-year-old Ravensdale man who was killed by King County deputies on Saturday said he was worried about going back to jail.
Friends and neighbors of a 19-year-old Ravensdale man who was killed by King County deputies on Saturday when he threatened them with a machete said he was worried about going back to jail.
Eric G. Sampson, of Ravensdale, died when three sheriff’s deputies shot him after he refused to lay down a machete he’d used to hit an officer’s car, according to a Sheriff’s Office spokesman.
Friends and neighbors confirmed Sampson’s identity on Monday, although his name has not been released by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.
“This is a very good kid from a nice family,” said neighbor Karen Kasper. “He had some traffic violations but hadn’t been in any other trouble. Apparently, there was a bench warrant for him and he called his mother just before this happened and told her he wasn’t going back to jail.”
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Sampson had a history of misdemeanor traffic citations and several related bench warrants, according to court documents.
He was also listed in a state computer database as being “potentially dangerous to officers,” according to Sgt. John Urquhart, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office,
But his friend, Kayla Cass, 18, of Buckley, said the label was unfair and stemmed from an offhand comment he’d once made to an officer.
“It was just this one time when he was pulled over for a ticket and he said, ‘No wonder why people shoot cops,’ but he didn’t mean it,” said Cass. “He seriously would never hurt anyone. He was actually a really good kid.”
According to Cass, Sampson had been with her and another friend in Buckley on Saturday night.
She said that Sampson was typically a happy, helpful person who worked at Lake Retreat Bible Camp. He made extra money by fixing cars and reselling them, she said.
Cass said Sampson knew he had warrants out for his arrest because of his failure to appear in court and to pay fines for minor traffic violations. He was driving his brother’s car despite having a suspended license.
Cass believes Sampson panicked when he was stopped by an officer with the Buckley Police Department around 11 p.m. Saturday.
Buckley Police Chief Jim Arsanto said the young man was fine when the officer first spoke with him to get license and registration information but then took off when the officer returned from his patrol vehicle.
Sampson was pursued by officers from Buckley, Enumclaw and the State Patrol before Sampson led them into the Cumberland area of unincorporated Southeast King County, where police called off the pursuit, according to Sgt. John Urquhart, a spokesman for the King County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies from the Sheriff’s Office went to the address where the car was registered, Urquhart said, and found the unoccupied 1978 Ford Fiesta on a rural road in the 28500 block of Retreat-Kanaskat Road.
As several deputies checked out the car, another deputy drove past and saw Sampson on the road carrying a large machete, according to Urquhart.
He “walked up to the deputy’s car and slashed down on the hood of the car with the weapon,” Urquhart wrote in a news release.
The deputy called for assistance around 11:40 p.m. and was joined by additional officers, Urquhart said. Sampson refused to drop the machete. Two deputies then fired Tasers at Sampson, but they had no effect, according to Urquhart.
Three deputies opened fire at Sampson and he was struck multiple times, police said.
The names of the three officers who fired their weapons were not disclosed Monday, but Urquhart said they were a 51-year-old with 28 years of law-enforcement experience; a 37-year-old with 10 years of experience; and a 31-year-old with 5 1/2 years of experience.
They have been placed on routine paid administrative leave pending the results of an investigation into the shooting, he said.
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.