A man who was shot by police had recently been placed on probation by a federal judge in Alaska who believed he was working hard toward getting out of trouble.
Seattle police say they have recovered and are reviewing video of the New Year’s Eve shooting death by a Seattle police officer of a South King County father of two who officers say pulled a gun following a traffic stop.
Police and the King County Medical Examiner’s Office had not released the name of the man Tuesday, however his longtime girlfriend identified him as 36-year-old Iosia Faletogo. The couple have two young sons, she said.
A Seattle Police Force Investigation Team has convened to look into the shooting, which occurred Monday about 5 p.m. near 96th Street and Aurora Avenue North.
According to police officials, patrol officers stopped Faletogo’s vehicle, headed northbound on Aurora. Police have still not said what prompted them to pull him over.
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Police say Faletogo stopped but then jumped out of the vehicle and ran west across the Aurora southbound lanes. Three officers caught up with him and a struggle ensued, police said. Faletogo reportedly produced a gun, and one of the officers drew a weapon and shot and killed him, police said.
Police have not released the identity of the officer involved. Seattle Police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said dash-camera and body-camera video have been recovered and are being reviewed by investigators. He said the department expects to release them Wednesday. Officers said they recovered a firearm at the scene. The incident resulted in the closure of at least part of Aurora for several hours Monday night as investigators combed the scene.
The department said the officer suffered a “slight” injury. The officer was placed on administrative leave per department policy.
U.S. District Court records in Alaska indicate that Faletogo was on probation after pleading guilty in June to a federal drug conspiracy out of Juneau.
According to federal court records, he pleaded guilty in June to importing and distributing heroin to a small community in Alaska called Petersburg, about 160 miles southwest of Juneau. A shipment seized by federal investigators in June 2014 was enough heroin to supply about half the town of 3,000 residents, the records show.
The court documents detail Faletogo’s troubled childhood outside of Seattle and show he was involved in recruiting and distribution of heroin in Alaska for at least three years before he was caught and pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge. King County court records show he was convicted of assault at age 19 and served jail time. Upon his release, according to federal court documents filed in Juneau, he turned his life around, reuniting with his high-school sweetheart, Stacy Fernandez, and working as a linesman for Seattle City Light. They had two sons, now ages 4 and 2 and a half.
That changed in 2012, according to the documents, when he suffered a back injury at work. After his girlfriend lost her job, they were forced to sell their home, which was facing foreclosure. Only after this, his lawyer wrote, did Faletogo turn to distributing drugs.
Though he was large in stature, Faletogo went by the nickname Slim, said Evon Fernandez, Stacy’s mother. He was a personable man. “Everybody liked Slim,” she said. Stacy, contacted by telephone Tuesday, said he was close to his large family and was helpful to his younger cousins and nephews.
Although prosecutors asked he serve five years in federal prison, Chief U.S. District Court Judge Timothy M. Burgess placed him on probation. In a June newspaper story, out of Juneau, Burgess said many defendants pledge to stay out of trouble but quickly break that promise. “‘I think he’s an exception and warrants an exceptional sentence,’ ” the newspaper quoted Burgess as saying.
But Faletogo struggled to find work after this latest case, said Stacy Fernandez. He had recently started working with a plumber, doing an apprenticeship.
The couple had broken up about six months ago, she said, but Faletogo remained a presence in her son’s lives.
The day before the shooting, he had taken the children to the Tukwila Family Fun Center, according to Evon Fernandez, the children’s grandmother.
“It’s really horrible,” Evon Fernandez said. “The kids always want their daddy.”
The family planned a vigil at the scene of the shooting for Tuesday afternoon.
An earlier version of this story misstated the direction the suspect reportedly ran.