The group that protested the fatal shooting of Che Andre Taylor by Seattle police is demanding the officers involved be criminally charged and Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole be fired.
A group protesting the recent shooting of a black man by Seattle police took to downtown streets Thursday, demanding police accountability and a criminal investigation of the officers involved.
About 100 people had initially gathered in the morning outside Seattle police headquarters to protest the shooting death of Che Andre Taylor. Many carried signs decrying the shooting, which happened Sunday in Northeast Seattle.
The group moved onto Fifth Avenue and Cherry Street, blocking traffic. Protesters then spent about an hour marching through the streets chanting, “Whose lives matter? Black lives matter!” They also chanted, “Che’s life matters.”
Police bicycle officers raced before the peaceful group, stopping traffic and lining the route. Many people joined in as the march wound its way through downtown streets.
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“We’re not going to walk quietly into the night,” said Taylor’s brother, Andrè Taylor. “We have to move with reason, thought, objective and purpose. We need everybody in Seattle to rise up.”
Protesters urged that the two officers who fired at Taylor be criminally charged, and are demanding that Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole be fired.
Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant joined the group for a few minutes, telling protesters she stood “in solidarity” with them.
Carrie Flake was driving in downtown when she became caught in traffic because of the protest. But she said she wasn’t bothered by the delay.
“This is important. It needs to be addressed,” she said.
By about 12:15 p.m., most of the protesters had dispersed, while a small group of about 15 to 20 headed off to the federal courthouse at Seventh Avenue and Stewart Street to continue the demonstration.
Earlier this week, Gerald Hankerson, the head of the Seattle King County NAACP, called Taylor’s shooting “coldblooded murder.”
Police were conducting surveillance about 3:30 p.m. Sunday in the 2200 block of Northeast 85th Street in the Wedgwood area as part of an investigation, according to the department.
Officers saw a man with a holstered handgun and identified him as Che Taylor, who is barred by law from possessing a handgun because of his criminal history, police said Monday.
While Taylor, 46, stood at the passenger door of a white Ford Taurus, a marked patrol vehicle with its emergency lights activated pulled up facing the Taurus about 4:15 p.m. as an arrest team approached the car, according to police.
“Officers ordered Taylor to show his hands and get on the ground,” police said in a statement. “He did not follow officers’ commands, and instead leaned into the Taurus.”
Officers and a civilian witness reported that Taylor reached for a handgun, prompting police to fire, according to the statement.
A patrol-car video of the incident released to the public doesn’t capture all of Taylor’s actions, some of which are obscured by the Taurus.
Detectives recovered Taylor’s handgun, the statement said.
Substances suspected to be crack cocaine and black-tar heroin were found on Taylor when he arrived at Harborview Medical Center, police said.
Police have identified the two officers who opened fire as Michael Spaulding, 34, and Scott Miller, 38, both hired in 2008. Both are white.
Spaulding was one of three police officers who shot and killed Jack Sun Keewatinawin on Feb. 26, 2013, in North Seattle after police say he wielded a piece of metal rebar “in a threatening manner.” Keewatinawin’s brothers had called police because they believed he was armed with a knife and holding their father hostage.
The shooting of the 21-year-old with a long history of mental illness was later ruled justified.
Hankerson, of the NAACP, disputed the police account of Taylor’s shooting, saying he believes the video shows Taylor was putting his hands in the air and was attempting to comply with officers’ orders when he was shot. He also blasted police and the media for labeling Taylor, just hours after his death, as an “armed felon.”
Taylor had a lengthy felony record, including rape, robbery and assault; he was under supervision by the state Department of Corrections after being sent to prison in 1992 and released in 2014.
Seattle police declined to comment on Thursday’s protest.