Seattle police Officer Scott Miller testified in the sixth day of an inquest looking into the circumstances of the fatal shooting of Taylor.
Seattle police Officer Scott Miller told a King County inquest jury Tuesday he “clearly” saw Che Taylor carrying a handgun in a holster within 45 minutes of a confrontation in which he and another officer fired shots that killed Taylor last year.
Miller, echoing earlier testimony of the other officer, Michael Spaulding, testified that as the two tried to arrest Taylor as a felon in unlawful possession of a firearm, Taylor’s right elbow went back in a “telltale symbol” consistent with drawing a gun.
Like Spaulding, Miller said he couldn’t see the gun because Taylor’s body blocked his view.
Miller, 39, who joined the department in 2008, said he fired his shotgun once. Spaulding fired his rifle six times, the eight-member jury has been told in the fact-finding proceeding.
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Miller said Taylor, who was standing next to an open door of a white car, fell inside. Near Taylor’s body, Miller said, he saw a quarter-inch of a handgun grip on the floorboard.
His testimony came on the sixth day of the inquest into the Feb. 21 shooting of Taylor, 46.
The confrontation occurred after Taylor, an African American, arrived in a different car in Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood, where Miller and Spaulding, both white, were looking for another man wanted on drug warrants and conducting undercover surveillance on a building unit.
It was captured on patrol-car video, although Taylor’s actions were obscured by the car.
Both officers were dressed in plainclothes, including garments with police markings.
Miller rebuffed suggestions from James Bible, an attorney for the Taylor family, that the gun might not have been in the holster at the time of the confrontation.
“The gun was on his hip. He did not get rid of it,” Miller said, reiterating he also saw the gun in the car.
Challenging Miller’s recollection, Bible displayed a photograph showing part of the barrel of a gun protruding from under a car seat.
Bible also said the photo appeared to show debris on the gun, a suggestion the gun had been there before the shooting.
Before the confrontation, Miller said he confirmed that Taylor had been identified as an armed career criminal by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and that the agency should be notified if Taylor was found in possession of a firearm.
Miller told jurors that he and Spaulding owed a duty to the citizens of Seattle to take action.
He said they chose long guns to approach Taylor because of his violent past. Taylor’s convictions include rape and robbery.
Taylor was shot because he ignored commands to get on the ground and reached for a gun, Miller testified, rejecting suggestions from Bible that officers failed to provide Taylor specific instructions on how to comply.
Miller is scheduled to return to the witness stand Wednesday, and the jury, which will answer a set of questions, could begin deliberations as soon as Wednesday afternoon.