A Seattle police officer shot a man Wednesday morning in Puyallup while serving a search warrant amid a larger investigation into organized crime and drug trafficking, officials said.
Interim Seattle police Chief Adrian Diaz said at a news conference Wednesday at the U.S. Attorney’s Office that the man was shot in the pelvis by an officer working with a federal task force that served a total of 19 search and arrest warrants, confiscating nearly 50 firearms and drugs. Diaz said two firearms were “found in the vicinity” of where the man fell, outside a house on the 1000 block of Seventh Avenue Southeast in Puyallup.
According to a 173-page search warrant unsealed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, the occupant of the home was under surveillance for being a “multi-ounce cocaine redistributor” working with other targets of the investigation, which employed judge-authorized telephone taps, surveillance, and undercover purchases. The warrant stated that agents believed cocaine was kept at the residence.
The shooting is under investigation, Diaz said. The officer was wearing a body camera and the chief said video would be made public within the next few days. The man’s injuries were not believed to be life-threatening, officials said.
The Seattle Police Department said in a news release that when police entered the home to serve the search warrant, the man came down the stairs and an officer fired at him.
Seattle police were in the Pierce County city to assist the FBI with the investigation into organized crime and “armed drug traffickers,” according to the bureau. A specialized task force was serving multiple arrest and search warrants throughout the area.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that 12 individuals had been indicted in connection with the investigation, which has been ongoing for months and involved another series of searches and arrests that occurred in April, when 24 other suspects were arrested. Assistant U.S. Attorney Vince Lombardi said the investigation, which is continuing, has netted 149 firearms, 50,000 counterfeit pain pills containing the powerful synthetic narcotic fentanyl, cocaine and more than $1 million in cash.
Lombardi and FBI Special Agent in Charge Donald Voiret said a task force of local and federal law enforcement agents were working their way up the ranks of “high-level” drug and gun dealers in the Puget Sound area, much of the contraband coming up the West Coast from Mexico.
Diaz said he believes the arrests and confiscations will make a difference in gun crime in the Seattle area, where the city last year saw 50 homicides and hundreds of other incidents where guns were fired in public. He said officers this year have investigated more than 250 reports of shots fired and recovered more than 1,000 shell casings from various crime scenes.
“I believes these arrests today send a strong message that we are not going to tolerate this violence,” Diaz said, noting that communities of color have been particularly impacted.
A neighbor at the Puyallup shooting scene, who asked not to be identified out of fear for his safety, said he heard someone yelling “we have a search warrant” at about 3:30 a.m. He didn’t hear any gunshots, but saw a person being loaded into an ambulance before officers told him to go back inside. He said a man, woman and two children lived in the duplex unit where the shooting occurred.
Representatives from Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability, Office of Inspector General and the SPD Force Investigation Team responded to the scene, SPD said. The officer will be placed on paid administrative leave, as is standard policy after a shooting.
Seattle Times reporter Christine Clarridge contributed to this report.