Three video clips taken from Kent police officers’ body-worn cameras show officers arriving in a residential neighborhood earlier this month, roughly eight minutes before rifle rounds are fired in rapid succession, ultimately killing a 60-year-old man who reportedly shot at officers.
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office last week identified Darren Butrick as the man killed in the Nov. 4 police shooting in the 13000 block of Southeast 204th Place.
The video footage was released to The Seattle Times in response to a public-disclosure request. Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla noted the footage is exempt from public disclosure because the Valley Independent Investigation Team (VIIT) is still investigating the fatal officer-involved shooting.
Notwithstanding that, “I do recognize the importance of timely disclosure of information in these types of incidents to ensure transparency,” Padilla said in an emailed statement, adding he confirmed with VIIT that the videos’ release will not compromise the investigation.
The VIIT is a multiagency team of investigators from the Auburn, Des Moines, Federal Way, Kent, Renton, Port of Seattle and Tukwila police departments in South King County. Kent police have been excluded from the investigation because its officers were involved in shooting Butrick.
Three officers who fired at Butrick remain on paid administrative leave, Assistant Des Moines Police Chief Mark Couey, whose department is leading the VIIT investigation, said Wednesday. One officer is 38 years old and has 10 years of police experience; the other officers are 31 and 29 and each have six years’ experience.
The VIIT’s preliminary investigation found that officers responded to a domestic-violence complaint at 8:08 p.m. Nov. 4 and learned a man was inside the residence armed with a rifle, according to a news release issued last week. Over the span of seven seconds, Butrick fired seven rounds at officers, and three officers fired 22 rounds in response, the news release says.
Though the shooting happened on the evening of Nov. 4, the body-cam footage is time-stamped after 4 a.m. on Nov. 5. That’s because all Axon Body 2 cameras, the brand used by Kent police, are set to Greenwich Mean Time, a police official explained. Kent police redacted the footage to blur out people’s faces, one woman’s name and computer screens inside patrol vehicles.
The longest of the three clips begins with an officer armed with a rifle approaching a fence. A male voice can be heard announcing, “Police department. Come on out.”
It’s dark and raining as four people are seen approaching from the officer’s left and the officer urges them to hurry toward him. A woman can be heard mentioning that her grandson is present. He asks other officers to “start interviewing these folks.”
Over the next couple of minutes, officers note the man is “killing lights in the house,” and that they have probable cause to arrest him on investigation of fourth-degree, domestic-violence assault. They fall back to find “harder cover” moments before one officer yells that he just saw a laser pointed out a front window.
A different officer speaks to the woman who called 911, the footage shows.
“He knows I called 911,” she told the officer.
The officer asked if the man had threatened her with a weapon and she replied no, but said he had been thrashing around and had pushed her and thrown things at her.
“You’ll see the house … It’s a disaster,” she said, adding the man attempted to slap a vase out of her hand and ended up grabbing her hand. She told the officer the man was inside a bedroom to the right of the front door.
An officer is heard telling a fellow officer that he had previously responded to the residence when the homeowner had shot himself in the backyard, according to the footage. (The Seattle Times has previously reported that Butrick had attempted suicide, citing a message his daughter had posted as part of a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to cover funeral expenses.)
Seconds later, an officer says, “Front door. He’s got the rifle in his hands.” In the background, another officer can be heard yelling, “Show us your hands! Show us your hands!”
As one officer changes positions, his camera briefly captures a figure seen framed in a lighted doorway holding what appears to be a long gun. Gunshots are heard and the officer, who is positioned behind a patrol vehicle, fires several rounds, the gunshots accompanied by the “tink, tink” of metal shell casings hitting the pavement.
The officer calls out, “Shots fired,” and other officers yell to each other to make sure none of them have been hit. One of the officers who fired at the man yells to other officers, “He’s down … Right in front of the front door, right through the screen. I can’t see him. He dropped down. I saw him drop but I can’t see where he’s at.”
Just before the gunshots ring out, one officer yells to another, “Get down, get down, the laser’s pointed to your car.”
After changing positions, the officer who was told to get down asks, “You got a shot?” and is told the man poked his head outside but went back into the house.
A minute later, gunfire is heard and the officer’s body-worn camera ends up focused on the wheel of a patrol vehicle.
“Are you shot?” someone asks him.
“I’m good, I’m good, I’m good,” he replies.
Information from Times archives is included in this story.