Police released video and audio recordings of the shooting as Officers Kenneth Martin and Tabitha Sexton fired at the black Subaru Impreza while responding to reports of a “suspicious vehicle” in the 2200 block of Yale Avenue East.
Seattle police have opened a criminal investigation into the actions of two officers who opened fire on a car in the Eastlake neighborhood Sunday night after they said the driver suddenly drove toward them.
The investigation by homicide detectives will determine whether a criminal violation occurred when the officers fired dozens of rounds at the stolen Subaru Impreza as it sped away, according to a law-enforcement source.
In addition, the department’s Force Investigation Team is conducting a separate investigation into the shooting to determine if department policy was followed, the source said.
The criminal investigation is being done out of an abundance of caution, another law-enforcement source said.
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Officers Kenneth Martin and Tabitha Sexton fired at the black Impreza after responding to reports of a “suspicious vehicle” in the 2200 block of Yale Avenue East. The Police Department identified the two officers Tuesday evening.
The video shows officers moving toward a car as an officer asks “is that them right there?” Officers then yell for the person to get on the ground, but the person runs toward the car.
The video then shows four officers running toward the car, with one of them standing in front of the car and moving out of the way as someone drives out of the parking stall and down an alley.
Officers initially open fire as the car pulls out. The driver briefly stops the car twice as officers open fire again with numerous gunshots. The driver then turns the vehicle right and drives off.
Officers located the car in North Seattle on Monday afternoon. The occupants have not been located. Police said Wednesday the car had been reported stolen.
One law-enforcement source said a small amount of blood was found in the car, but not enough to suggest serious injury.
The law-enforcement source said Andrew Myerberg, interim director of the department’s Office of Police Accountability, advised the department early Monday morning to open the criminal investigation.
At issue, the source said, is whether the officers’ actions – particularly the second round of gunshots – rose to the level of possible criminal conduct. Also at issue is whether they violated department policy by shooting at a fleeing vehicle, the source said.
According to the department manual, officers shouldn’t fire at a moving vehicle “unless a person in the vehicle is immediately threatening the officer or another person with deadly force by means other than the vehicle.” The manual states that the moving vehicle itself shall not “presumptively constitute a threat that justifies” deadly force.
Officers also should move out of the path of a vehicle unless the person is immediately threatening the officer or another person.
It’s expected that the results from the criminal investigation will be completed within a week and submitted to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to determine whether the shooting was criminal.
Martin, 27, was hired by the police department in 2015. Sexton, 32, was hired in 2007. Both officers have been placed on paid administrative leave, per normal policy.