Federal agents are investigating the purported multiple transfers of a pistol that was originally bought by a then-King County sheriff’s deputy in 2013.
Federal agents are investigating the purported multiple transfers of a pistol that was originally bought by a law-enforcement officer three years before it was recovered from a car parked where Che Taylor was fatally shot by Seattle police in February.
A former King County sheriff’s deputy who first purchased the handgun in 2013 has produced a bill of sale showing he sold the weapon to another man.
That man, identified as Cody Rogers, has told the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives (ATF) he later sold the gun to a soldier near Joint Base Lewis-McChord last year, Doug Dawson, special agent in charge of the Seattle ATF office, said Wednesday.
The ATF is trying to identify the soldier, Dawson said, as it seeks to close the loop on how the Springfield Armory XDS .45-caliber pistol ended up in a car Taylor had just exited when he was shot by two Seattle police officers Feb. 21.
In the highly publicized incident, Taylor, a 46-year-old African-American man, was shot when the two white officers sought to arrest him as a felon allegedly in possession of a prohibited firearm.
The former deputy, Daniel Murphy, who was fired by the Sheriff’s Office last year as a result of an unrelated domestic dispute, initially denied he originally bought the gun at an Issaquah gun store in March 2013.
Through an attorney, Murphy said late last month he was the victim of mistaken identity and that he once owned different Springfield pistols.
But on Monday, Murphy contacted The Seattle Times, acknowledging he had bought the gun, something he said he only recently confirmed after discovering the bill of sale to Rogers. He said he planned to provide the record to Seattle police.
Seattle police released a copy of the bill of sale Tuesday under a public-disclosure request made by The Times.
It shows Murphy sold the handgun to Rogers, who listed a Puyallup address at the time, on April 4, 2013 — days after Murphy took delivery of the gun from the Issaquah store on March 30, 2013, according to a firearm-transaction record.
In producing the bill of sale, Murphy sent an email to Seattle police Monday, in which he wrote: “After tearing through everything I have I was finally able to locate this bill of sale for the handgun in question.” He noted he had owned several guns and “that was 3 years ago.”
Murphy, 36, declined to comment further to The Times on the transaction, except to say he has done nothing wrong.
Rogers has told the ATF he bought the gun from Murphy after it was advertised online, then sold it two years later to the soldier, the ATF’s Dawson said.
Rogers was trying to help find the soldier’s name in emails, Dawson said.
Rogers, 24, declined to provide details to The Times when reached by phone Tuesday, saying he was working with the ATF.
Dawson said his agency is aggressively tracking the history of the handgun. He described the apparent number of transfers as unusual, raising concerns of a potential straw purchase and use of the weapon as a crime gun.
All of the purported transactions will be double-checked, Dawson said.
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Last week, Taylor’s family called for an investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice, claiming the original ownership of the gun supports their suspicions that it was planted by police at the scene where Taylor was shot.
Taylor was shot at close range during a confrontation in North Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood, which was captured on a patrol-car video. The two officers who fired the shots told investigators they feared for their lives when they saw Taylor reach toward what they believed was a handgun in a holster, according to police records.
The two officers, Michael Spaulding and Scott Miller, in recorded statements, said that shortly before the confrontation, they had seen Taylor carrying the handgun in the holster while they were conducting surveillance on a suspected narcotics dealer.
Spaulding and Miller said they recognized Taylor, who had arrived at the scene, as a violent felon who had served prison time.
Taylor was subject to immediate arrest for being a felon in possession of the gun, according to their statements. The officers moved to arrest Taylor after he exited a parked car occupied by a woman and a man.
Detectives with a warrant later recovered the loaded Springfield pistol from the floorboard of the car after it was impounded, according to police.
A firefighter told police that he had to cut a belt with an empty holster on it off Taylor to provide medical treatment to him, according to police.
Murphy, who joined the King County Sheriff’s Office in 2005, was charged with felony harassment in February 2015, accused by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office of threatening to kill his girlfriend.
The charge was dropped in April 2015 at the request of prosecutors, who said in a court filing that the woman no longer wished to participate in the case.
Shortly after, he was fired by King County Sheriff John Urquhart, who found Murphy had engaged in conduct that was criminal in nature and conduct unbecoming a deputy.
The Sheriff’s Office has opened an internal investigation regarding Murphy’s purchase of the handgun.
Even though Murphy no longer works for the office, his union decided to take his termination to arbitration, which could result in his rehiring, and the gun was purchased during Murphy’s employment with the Sheriff’s Office, Urquhart has said.