An inquest has been ordered into the fatal police shooting of Samuel T. Smith, who ran at a Seattle officer with a knife on July 17.
King County Executive Dow Constantine has ordered an inquest into the fatal shooting of a knife-wielding man by Seattle police on July 17.
Samuel T. Smith, 27, was shot and killed by an officer during an altercation in the 6500 block of Ravenna Avenue Northeast. The shooting happened as Smith ran at the officer with a 16-inch knife, an incident captured by a police dashboard camera.
Around 4 a.m. that day, a gray Mazda slammed into a police cruiser on Interstate 5, forcing the officer onto the median before speeding off.
Police launched a search for the car, and found a Mazda 3 matching the description of the suspect vehicle on Ravenna Avenue Northeast around 4:30 a.m. Dash-cam video shows an officer approaching the car, and jumping back when a man moved toward him raising a large knife.
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The officer, Shaun Hilton, 35, shouted “drop the knife,” then fired three times.
Smith was pronounced dead at the scene.
The King County Prosecutor’s Office recommended the shooting inquest after reviewing materials from police.
Inquests are convened to determine the causes and circumstances of any death involving a member of any law-enforcement agency in King County while in the performance of his or her duties. Inquest jurors answer a series of interrogatories to determine factual issues involved in the case; they do not determine civil or criminal liability.
After the shooting, Smith’s mother, Sarah Fitch, 62, of Port Townsend, told The Seattle Times she was perplexed by her son’s actions. She said he had never been violent in his life.
“He did not have meanness and violence in him,” Fitch said in a telephone interview. “He was just a gentle soul.”