Investigators have determined that a 23-year-old man fatally shot by police on New Year’s Eve fired the first shots at Federal Way officers, wounding two of them before he was killed, according to a Monday statement from an independent law enforcement team tasked with investigating the shooting.
Malik T.E. Williams was fatally shot by police in the 30800 block of 14th Avenue South in Federal Way, after a resident called 911 at 12:17 a.m. to report a disturbance between a man and a woman in a parking lot in that block, according to a preliminary statement from the Valley Independent Investigations Team. The team is made up of investigators from seven South King County police departments.
The caller reported hearing a woman yelling, a man’s voice and the sound of a bang near a car in the parking lot, the statement said. When officers arrived, a man later identified as Williams and a woman were sitting in a car and one was “uncooperative” with officers, who requested backup, Federal Way Police Chief Andy Hwang said at a news conference on Dec. 31.
According to the investigative team, evidence, video footage and witness statements indicated that Williams, who was sitting in the passenger seat of the car, shot at the seven officers, who then returned fire. One witness said they heard the officers yell, “Drop the gun” several times before hearing gunfire, the statement said.
Investigators recovered a 9-mm handgun from the car. They later learned that Williams used a wheelchair, which was secured in the back seat at the time of the shooting.
Hwang initially said at the Dec. 31 press conference he could not immediately rule out the possibility that the two wounded officers were hit by friendly fire, but Monday’s statement says they were both shot by Williams.
The officers who were shot are a 30-year-old corporal who has been with the department for seven years and a 38-year-old who has been with the department for four of his 13 years in law enforcement. The 30-year-old was shot in the arm and chest, and Hwang said the officer’s ballistic vest likely saved his life. The 38-year-old was shot in the leg.
They were taken to St. Francis Hospital and Harborview Medical Center and were released later on Dec. 31.
Both officers are still on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation, in accordance with department policy.
VIIT spokesman and Renton Police Department Comdr. David Leibman said the woman who was in the car with Williams has been identified and is cooperating with the investigation.
Seattle Times reporters Asia Fields and Christine Clarridge contributed to this story.