A Seattle police officer who accidentally shot a 19-year-old woman in the leg Wednesday night has been placed on paid administrative leave while the shooting is investigated, police said.
Assistant Police Chief Paul McDonagh said the shooting is being investigated by the department’s homicide and assault detectives and will be reviewed by the Firearms Review Board as well as the Use of Force Review Board.
“Any discharge of a weapon is very, very serious to us,” he said during a news conference.
The 29-year-old officer, who has not been identified, has been with the department a year and a half, police said.
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The woman, who was wanted on felony warrants, suffered a wound not considered life-threatening, police said. She was unarmed.
McDonagh said the officer was among those responding to a false report of an exploding incendiary device at a hotel on Aurora Avenue North and North 120th Street around 11 p.m. when he saw one woman punching another on the sidewalk near the hotel.
One woman saw the officer and took off running, McDonagh said.
He said the officer got out of his car and chased the woman across the street, through a parking lot and behind a building into a dark corner. The woman refused the officer’s commands to stop and show her hands, McDonagh said.
He said the officer could not see the woman’s hands, but believed they were near or in her waistband. The officer then “drew out his gun” to cover himself and in doing so the weapon discharged unintentionally, police said.
The officer immediately realized he’d made a mistake, called for help and apologized to the woman.
The woman was taken to Harborview Medical Center. It was unclear if she was still there Thursday evening. She was booked on several felony warrants out of Snohomish County, McDonagh said.
McDonagh said officers are trained to place their index finger along the side of the handgun rather than on the trigger whenever they pull a handgun from its holster. An officer is only to place his finger on the trigger once he decides to use deadly force, the assistant chief said.
Police are investigating the exact circumstances that caused the weapon to discharge, said police spokesman Jeff Kappel.
According to police, the original call about the incendiary device was not connected to the brawl between the two women, police said. It turned out to be a bogus report made by a person with mental-health issues, police said.
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.