An off-duty Auburn police officer is accused of fatally striking a pedestrian after losing control of his vehicle Saturday night in Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood, according to Seattle police.
Michael L. Smith, 33, posted $200,000 bail and was released from jail Monday night after a King County District Court judge found probable cause for vehicular homicide, court and jail records show.
Clifford Jones, 65, died from multiple blunt-force injuries, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Auburn police said in a news release that an officer involved in a fatal vehicle-pedestrian collision at 15th Avenue West and West Gilman Drive in Seattle was put on administrative leave after the department learned of his arrest. The release does not identify Smith by name but says the police department will conduct an internal investigation.
Witnesses called 911 at 10:48 p.m. Saturday and reported a person was unresponsive after being struck by a vehicle, according to the probable cause statement outlining the Seattle Police Department’s case against Smith.
Smith, who remained at the scene, smelled of alcohol, slurred his speech and had bloodshot, watery eyes, the statement says.
Police determined that a vehicle traveling north on 15th Avenue West at high speed veered onto the sidewalk, then launched over an earthen berm, according to the probable cause statement. The force of the impact caused the pedestrian, who was either walking in a crosswalk or on the sidewalk, to be thrown over the berm and onto Gilman Drive West, it says.
The pedestrian died at the scene. One witness estimated the vehicle was going 90 mph, the statement says.
During the investigation, police learned the same driver had been involved in a hit-and-run collision with a taxicab minutes earlier near Alaskan Way and Madison Street, the statement says. That location is 3½ miles south of the crash scene.
A passenger in the cab told police the other driver had attempted to pull the cabdriver out of the car before speeding off, according to the statement. The passenger was brought to the scene of the deadly crash and identified Smith as the man she had seen, the statement says.
Smith was hired by Auburn police in 2021 after short stints working for Bellevue police and the University of Washington Police Department, according to public records obtained by The Seattle Times.
Staff reporter Sydney Brownstone contributed to this story.