The records released by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office provide the most complete account to date of the April 20 confrontation that left four officers injured and led to the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old man.
On April 20, Seattle police Officer Elizabeth Kennedy was at the Starbucks at Fourth Avenue and Seneca Street with two other officers.
While talking about “regular stuff,” Kennedy later recalled, she said, “Hey, guys, I rolled my ankle this morning, don’t get me involved in a foot chase.”
Moments later, a call went out about an armed robbery, according to recently released records that, for the first time, provide details of what became a deadly Seattle police shooting.
Over the ensuing minutes, part of downtown would be shut down, a police officer would suffer a serious gunshot wound and a suspect would be killed in a hail of gunfire.
Kennedy avoided serious injury when a bullet fired by the suspect lodged in her protective vest, the records show.
The early-afternoon incident began when Damarius Butts, 19, and his 17-year-old sister allegedly stole doughnuts, potato chips, a 12-pack of beer and other beverages from a 7-Eleven store at 627 First Ave.
When the clerk ran after them and grabbed his sister, Butts revealed a gun in his waistband and demanded the clerk let go, according to criminal charges filed against his sister, Adrianna Butts.
Bicycle officers quickly caught up to the siblings, who had given the stolen food to a third person, a 19-year-old Renton man who was waiting outside the store, charging papers say.
As officers tried to take Butts into custody, his sister threw a soft-drink bottle that struck one officer’s head, then “struck the officer and attempted to place him in a choke hold … enabling her brother to break free,” according to the charges.
About 1:23 p.m., Butts ran past Kennedy’s patrol car and toward the loading-dock area of the Federal Building at 909 First Ave., according to a Seattle police Force Investigation Report obtained from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office under a public-disclosure request submitted by The Seattle Times.
Kennedy jumped from her patrol car and led a group of officers chasing Butts.
“Show me your hands!” she yelled to Butts, her commands captured on her in-car video and audio system.
Kennedy chased Butts onto the loading dock and into the building, with two other officers running behind her, according to the force report. She quickly found herself in a small room with Butts.
In a statement she later provided to investigators, Kennedy said she was thinking at the time, “He’s not gonna shoot me over a 6-pack of beer.”
She added that “the only thing I remember saying to him is, ‘don’t make me shoot you,’ ” right after he pulled a handgun from his pants.
Kennedy said she then heard a “very soft pop” and felt something hit her ballistic vest.
She said she returned fire until Butts fell, according to the report.
Several other officers arrived, including Hudson Kang, one of the officers Kennedy had been talking with minutes earlier at the Starbucks.
In his interview with investigators, Kang said he saw Butts lying on the ground, partially blocked by wooden pallets. Officers told Butts to “drop the gun,” Kang said.
“During that time, I remember hearing a bang, a gunshot and I remember immediately feeling pressure going through my body, I thought I was hit directly, uh, center mass, in the vest, ‘cause I remember I felt, like, a bunch of energy inside my chest area,” Kang said.
The shot had actually struck him on the left side of his chin, knocking him down, the report says.
Officer Joshua Vaaga told investigators he saw what he believed to be a muzzle flash from behind the pallets and saw Kang drop to the ground with blood on his chin. Vaaga said he pointed his gun at Butts and fired.
Two other officers, Christopher Myers and Canek Gordillo, also opened fire, according to the force report.
In all, 18 shots were fired by Kennedy, Vaaga, Myers and Gordillo — 10 of them by Kennedy, the report says.
Two officers then pulled Kang out of the area.
Butts was declared dead at the scene by paramedics. A silver-colored handgun was seen on the ground where Butts had lain, according to the report.
His sister, Adrianna Butts, who was charged as an adult with first-degree robbery and third-degree assault of a police officer, is awaiting trial in January. The third person who had been outside the store wasn’t charged.
Findings of the Police Department’s Force Review Board on whether the shooting fell within policy are pending.
A court inquest to determine the causes and circumstances of the fatal shooting also is pending, to be followed by a decision by the prosecutor’s office on whether to file charges against the officers who fired.
Kennedy, who told investigators she suffered some bruising, was treated at Harborview Medical Center and released.
Another officer suffered a minor bullet wound to the hand, police said.
Matthew Merritt, the officer allegedly assaulted by Adrianna Butts, suffered cuts and scratches to his knees and legs, and his uniform pants were torn in the fight, the charges say.
Kang, who was hospitalized for several days and has yet to return to work, told investigators the bullet that hit him went through his chin toward his throat, then hit two of his vertebrae and chipped the bones. It then clipped his right lung, fractured his shoulder blade and bounced down, fracturing three ribs, he said.
The bullet remains in his right side, near his shoulder, Kang said.
“They said they’re just gonna leave it in there, I’m just gonna grow old with it,” Kang told investigators. “Unless I want to take it out.”