Seattle police released new information Monday on the Feb. 21 fatal shooting of Che Taylor by two officers, including patrol-car video, recorded soon after the incident, in which a woman spontaneously said she believed Taylor pull a handgun before officers opened fire.
Seattle police released new information Monday on the fatal shooting of Che Taylor by two officers, including patrol-car video, recorded soon after the incident, in which a woman spontaneously said she believed Taylor pulled a handgun before officers opened fire.
The unidentified woman made the comment while sitting at the time in the back seat of a patrol car, shortly after Taylor was shot on Feb. 21. A rear-facing camera in the patrol car recorded her remarks.
“I think he pulled out a gun and then they shot …,” the woman said, referring to police.
Just before, she said, she heard Taylor being told to “get on the ground.”
The woman described Taylor as a “friend of a friend,” whom she didn’t know was “running from the law.”
The woman had been sitting in the back seat of a Ford Taurus at the time of the shooting, the vehicle Taylor was beside before he was shot.
Detectives with a search warrant recovered a handgun from the front passenger-side floor of the Taurus, police said.
Police also released an audio recording of an interview with the woman, conducted later that day, in which she said Taylor didn’t obey commands and pulled something from his pants that she assumed to be a handgun.
But she provided a less definitive statement at that point, noting she couldn’t actually see a gun from her blocked view in the back seat.
Earlier that day, the woman said on the recording, Taylor asked her if she wanted to work as a prostitute. But she declined, she said.
A man who also was in the Taurus, in the driver’s seat, said he did not see Taylor with a gun and only heard some “impact sounds.”
Also made public Monday was a clip of a recorded interview of a firefighter who told police that he had to cut a belt with an empty holster on it off Taylor to provide medical treatment to him.
Che Taylor’s older brother, Andrè Taylor, said the new information doesn’t change his opinion that police opened fire too quickly on his brother.
He said the male witness who was in the driver’s seat doesn’t mention seeing a gun, and Andrè Taylor said he is convinced his brother was not carrying a gun as “he was too smart for that.”
He also said the statement from the female witness was not convincing.
“Police acted as if they had a witness who was sure of what she’d seen, but that poor little girl said four different things.”
“I think there is an issue,” Andrè Taylor said. “The police have got a problem. This is not going away.”
The newly disclosed information followed a Feb. 26 pledge by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole to provide a comprehensive update within 30 days on the shooting of the 46-year-old African American. Monday’s update exceeded that time frame by one day.
In a written statement released with the video and audio clips, police said that the investigation into the shooting remains ongoing and that the department was disclosing the additional information in response to community requests.
Only evidence that has been examined by the Force Investigation Team that doesn’t compromise the investigation was being released, the statement said.
“By releasing these statements and evidence, SPD does not intend to convey any interpretation or prejudgment regarding the actions of Che Taylor, witnesses at the scene, or the involved officers,” the statement said.
The department has not reached any conclusions on the officers’ use of force, the statement said.
In a Feb. 22 statement, police said Taylor, a felon under supervision by the state Department of Corrections, was shot after he didn’t follow commands and reached for a handgun as officers were trying to arrest him with a prohibited weapon.
Taylor’s family and supporters have strongly questioned the police version, including a public demonstration shortly after it occurred. Gerald Hankerson, president of the Seattle King County NAACP, called the shooting “coldblooded murder.”
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Hankerson said Taylor’s death was an execution at the hands of the two white officers.
The results of the Force Investigation Team’s investigation will be forwarded to the police department’s Force Review Board within 90 days of the shooting. The board includes outside and independent observers, among them a civilian and representatives of the Justice Department and a federal monitor overseeing the reforms.
The board will determine whether the shooting was consistent with policy; whether the officers used appropriate tactics; and whether the investigation should be turned over to the department’s Office of Police Accountability for a disciplinary review.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office ultimately will review the matter to determine if criminal charges are warranted, and an inquest proceeding is likely.
Police released graphic patrol-car video Feb. 22, along with a detailed description of the incident.
In that statement, police said they were conducting surveillance about 3:30 p.m. as part of an ongoing investigation on the edge of the Wedgwood neighborhood in Northeast Seattle.
Officers saw a man with a holstered handgun and recognized him as Taylor, a “convicted violent felon” prohibited by law from possessing a handgun, the statement said.
While Taylor stood at the passenger door of the Taurus, a marked patrol vehicle with its emergency lights activated pulled up facing the Taurus as an arrest team approached the car, according to police.
“Officers ordered Taylor to show his hands and get on the ground,” the statement said. “He did not follow officers’ commands, and instead leaned into the Taurus.”
Officers and a civilian witness — now identified as the woman in the back seat — told investigators Taylor reached for a handgun, the Feb. 22 statement said.
Statements from the officers who fired have not been released because they are subjects of the investigation.
The patrol-car video released Feb. 22 doesn’t capture all of Taylor’s actions, some of which are obscured by the Taurus.
Taylor, who was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where he died, was found to be carrying about six ounces of suspected crack cocaine and black tar heroin, according to police.
Police booked the man in the Taurus into the King County Jail for possession of what was described as a significant quantity of suspected heroin.
Under standard procedures, the officers involved were placed on paid administrative leave while the matter is investigated.
Taylor, who also has gone by the name Marvin R. Hunter, had a felony record, including rape, robbery and assault, according to court records.
Information in this article, originally published March 28, 2016, was later corrected that day and March 29, 2016. A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to a video-recorded interview of a firefighter. The interview was audio recorded. It also incorrectly stated that Mayor Ed Murray and Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole fulfilled a pledge to provide an update within 30 days of the Feb. 21 shooting of Che Taylor. They actually pledged to provide the update within 30 days of a Feb. 26 statement, which they exceeded by one day.