A 24-year-old man fatally shot by Tacoma police during a traffic stop has been identified as Bennie Branch.

Branch was pulled over about 2:40 a.m. Sunday in the 3400 block of Portland Avenue.

After some kind of altercation, an officer shot Branch. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Details about what led up to the shooting and why Branch was stopped have not been released.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department is heading the investigation because of a new state law that prevents law-enforcement agencies from investigating their own officer-involved shootings.

Branch had warrants out for his arrest at the time of the shooting, and an Airsoft gun belonging to Branch was found at the scene, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.


The officer, who has been with the Tacoma Police Department for four years, was not injured. He was placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure after a police shooting.

Family members said Branch was in the area checking on his mother, who is homeless, when officers stopped him.

They said he did not do anything to warrant being shot.

“He was not a perfect kid, but he was a loving kid,” his uncle, Jackie Johnson, told KIRO-TV. Police “messed up, and they need to admit that they messed up.”