A King County coroner’s inquest into the 2017 shooting death of Robert Lightfeather by two Federal Way police officers will convene Monday after a monthlong delay.
Officer Tyler Turpin sought the delay after testing positive for COVID-19, according to attorney Thomas Miller, who is representing the involved officers and the Federal Way Police Department.
As one of the involved officers — the other is Austin Rogers — Turpin has a right to be present at the inquest and, according to inquest documents, is anticipated to testify. Inquest Administrator Robert McBeth postponed the hearing last month and dismissed a six-member jury.
A new jury was picked Thursday. Testimony is expected to begin immediately.
Lightfeather’s family had professed anxiety over the postponement but did not oppose the delay. Attorney Teri Rogers Kemp, who’s representing the family, said it’s unlikely family members will attend the proceedings in person, in order to avoid further trauma.
McBeth said he will read to the jury on Monday a family statement about Lightfeather and display a provided photograph, sharply rejecting objections to the material by the involved officers and the city.
“The statement is directly from Mr. Lightfeather’s family and is describing the qualities that they valued about him and will be clearly identified as such,” McBeth wrote in an order issued Thursday. “It is unlikely that any juror will be surprised that his family saw good in Mr. Lightfeather and the risk of any conceivable prejudice is outweighed by the value that should be placed on demonstrating the respect that should be shown to all human life.”
According to news reports and inquest pleadings, Lightfeather, 33, was intoxicated and armed with a handgun when the officers confronted him in the parking lot of the Elephant Car Wash on Pacific Avenue South the evening of Oct. 30, 2017. According to witnesses, Lightfeather had been drinking with two other men and allegedly had threatened them with a small pistol.
The officers said they shot Lightfeather after he pointed the gun at them and refused to drop the weapon.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the type of gun Robert Lightfeather allegedly brandished.