A Federal Way police officer testified Thursday that Robert Lightfeather pointed a gun at his face and “racked the slide” before the officer shot him repeatedly — “as fast as I could” — until Lightfeather crumpled to the pavement of a Pacific Highway South car wash in 2017.

Officer Austin Rogers fired his handgun 14 times in a matter of seconds, according to evidence submitted to a King County coroner’s inquest jury. Another officer, Tyler Turpin, also fired at the 33-year-old Lightfeather, who first pointed a handgun at a drinking partner, then later at the officers, witnesses said.

The eight-member coroner’s jury has spent four days listening to the testimony of 17 witnesses, reviewing scene photographs and considering other forensic evidence while reviewing the officers’ decision to shoot Lightfeather the evening of Sept. 30, 2017, at the Pink Elephant Car Wash.

The panel will reconvene Friday to answer a series of questions about whether the officers followed policies and were justified in their use of deadly force.

Dr. Timothy Williams, a King County Medical Examiner’s Office pathologist, testified that Lightfeather was struck seven times, including mortal wounds to his neck, head and heart that would have been debilitating and quickly fatal.

Williams said a toxicology report showed Lightfeather’s blood alcohol level was measured at 0.24%, three times the level required to prove legal intoxication.


According to testimony, Lightfeather had followed another car into the car wash parking lot to inform the driver that the vehicle was smoking and apparently overheating. The passenger in that car, Warren Nyanjui, testified that the trio — Lightfeather, Nyanjui and another man, Joseph Kangethe — passed around a bottle of liquor.

Nyanjui said Lightfeather “looked drunk and was slurring his words” when he suddenly displayed a handgun and pointed it at Kangethe’s head. A passerby, Sharon Mendiola, called 911.

Turpin was across the street on a traffic stop when he heard the call of a man with a gun. He immediately pulled into traffic, made a U-turn and drove into the car wash parking lot.

Rogers, who pulled in right behind Turpin, testified he was climbing out of his cruiser and drawing his sidearm when he saw Lightfeather first point the gun at Turpin, then swivel toward him, holding the small Walther semi-automatic pistol in his left hand as he racked the gun’s slide with his right.

Rogers said there are only three reasons to cycle a semi-automatic pistol by pulling back on the slide and releasing it: to unload the weapon after removing the magazine, to clear a misfeed or a jam, or to cock and load the weapon so it will fire.

“I didn’t think he was doing the first one,” Rogers said under questioning by his attorney, Thomas Miller. “He racked it real quick and pointed it back in my direction.


“It happened so fast. By the time I was out of my vehicle he was pointing a gun at me. There was no real alternative to stop this male from pointing a gun a me. Deadly force was the only option.”

Rogers was the final witness in the third King County inquest held since the Washington Supreme Court unanimously turned aside challenges by several King County police agencies, including Federal Way, to an expanded inquest process. The county is unique in Washington and a rarity in the U.S. in that its charter requires a coroner’s jury to review the facts, circumstances and possible criminality involved in any law-enforcement related death of a citizen.

The county halted inquests in 2018 to revise the process to make it more transparent and accessible to the families of people killed by police and to address historical racial discrimination and pro-police biases that had emerged from the process in the 1960s and ’70s.

There’s a backup of 56 pending inquests, as a result. In roughly half of those cases, jurors will be asked to weigh the officer’s actions against a state police deadly force statute that, up until it was changed in 2019, makes it virtually impossible for jurors to seek criminal charges against an officer. Rogers and Turpin’s actions are being reviewed under the provisions of the old statute.

Inquests juries convened for the prior two proceedings — involving the Seattle Police Department’s fatal 2017 shootings of Damarius Butts and Charleena Lyles — found the officers in both circumstances were justified in using deadly force.

Lightfeather’s family described him as a friendly and funny man who was the father to five children.