Police in Washington state said that they were forced to kill a man who was armed with rocks, but witnesses claimed the suspect was trying to run away.
The Bellingham Herald reported that “more than a dozen witnesses” watched Pasco police officers confront a man outside Vinny’s Bakery and Cafe on Tuesday. The man was observed throwing a rock at a passing vehicle before police arrived.
According to the witnesses, the suspect was holding a rock, and appeared to threaten officers.
Ben Patrick said that he was just yards away when he saw officers try to shock the man with their Tasers.
“The guy was trying to pull the Taser (prongs) out of his arm,” Patrick recalled.
Cellphone video that was posted to YouTube shows the man confronting police before the officers fire three shots, and then begin chasing the suspect.
The officers appear to corner the man in the blurry video, and about 10 more shots are fired.
“It was just a rock!” one of the witnesses yells at the officers.
In the video, a motionless body can be seen lying next to a building with officers standing over it.
“He’s already dead!” a witness says as the officers handcuff the suspect.
Patrick told The Bellingham Herald that the man’s back was turned to officers when he was shot to death.
“I really thought they were just going walk up and tackle or tase him,” he explained. “But they opened fire. His back was turned.”
Patrick’s wife, Shannon, witnessed the shooting, and told a similar story.
“He turned around to take off running and the cops just shot him,” she said. “All he was trying to do was walk away.”
But Police spokesperson Capt. Ken Roske insisted in a statement that the officers were forced to open fire because they had been threatened.
“He (didn’t) comply with their commands as far as we know right now,” Roske said.
In at statement that was released later in the evening, the Pasco Police Department said that “officers were assaulted by the suspect and a Tazer was used but not successfully.”
“The suspect continued to not comply with the officers and at one point threatened them, forcing the officers to fire their handgun,” the statement continued. “The male died at the scene.”
The Tri-City Special Investigative Unit has reportedly taken over the case. It is a special task force that handles officer-involved shootings. The Pasco Police Department that said it followed standard procedure and placed the officers in this case on administrative leave.
Pasco police declined to release the name of the officers or the name of the suspect.
Warning: The video below is disturbing. It shows the shooting, and the suspect’s body.