The inquiry is an unusual departure from Seattle Police Department protocol. Officials say it promises additional scrutiny into the shooting of 36-year-old Iosia Faletogo, just off Aurora Avenue North
The Washington State Patrol has agreed to conduct a criminal investigation into a Seattle police officer’s fatal shooting of a 36-year-old man on New Year’s Eve, acting on a request from the Seattle Police Department, department officials said Friday.
The unusual move came after the department’s Office of Police Accountability (OPA) recommended that an outside law-enforcement agency conduct an independent investigation to determine whether the shooting of Iosia Faletogo by Officer Jared Keller was lawful.
The OPA said it will conduct its own internal investigation to determine if the North Seattle shooting violated department policies and procedures.
“Together, these investigations are intended to provide a thorough and impartial evaluation of the facts, which are critical not only for evaluating the case, but for ensuring transparency and maintaining public confidence in the SPD and the police accountability system,” Andrew Myerberg, the OPA’s civilian director, said in a news release.
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Myerberg said the facts of the shooting warrant a “full and fair review,” but that he had drawn no conclusions.
The OPA anticipates its investigation will be completed by the end of July, he said.
Some people had called for an independent investigation under the terms of a state police-accountability and training measure passed by voters in November. But that measure requires further steps, according to officials.
The department’s Force Investigation Team will continue to conduct an administrative inquiry as part of a use-of-force review required under federally mandated reforms enacted in 2012.
The State Patrol has previously conducted criminal investigations of Seattle officers at the request of the department, although the majority of such investigations are carried out internally by Seattle police detectives.
Seattle police released graphic video last week of the shooting, including slowed-down footage showing Faletogo grasping what police say was a stolen handgun.
The video appears to show that, when Faletogo was shot in the head, the gun was no longer in his hand and he was on the ground struggling with several officers.
The shooting occurred just off Aurora Avenue North near North 96th Street after officers made a traffic stop of a car Faletogo was driving. Faletogo ran from the car, leading to a brief chase and struggle in which he was shot by Keller.
Body-camera video and audio captured officers shouting “drop the gun,” “you’re going to get shot” and “he’s reaching” during the pursuit and ensuing struggle.
Faletogo’s family has questioned the police version of the shooting and whether deadly force was necessary.
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 to importing and distributing heroin to a small community in 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.
King County court records show he was convicted of assault at age 19 and served jail time.