Details released on officers who shot girl in Arlington

  • Saturday, March 25, 2017 10:08am
  • News

ARLINGTON — Two Arlington police officers found her lying in the street in front of the post office.

The first officer approached the girl, 17. She was distraught and yelling. His sergeant spoke with two young men standing on the sidewalk nearby. One man, 18, had blood on his face and reported that the girl, whom he was dating, had assaulted him.

The first officer asked the girl why she was in the road. She allegedly said she wanted to die and was waiting for a truck to run her over, according to a search warrant filed Friday in Snohomish County Superior Court. The officer said he believed the teen was a danger to herself and needed to be taken into protective custody.

The situation escalated. Minutes later both officers fired their weapons. The girl was shot in the chest and lower right side and rushed to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. She survived.

The search warrant reveals new details about the Feb. 14 shooting, including statements from the Arlington officers. Both told investigators earlier this month the girl lunged at the sergeant with a knife. She also advanced on him with the weapon, they said.

One witness said he didn’t see the girl with a knife. He implied that deputies planted the weapon. “Not saying that it — that’s what happened. Maybe she did but I never saw a knife,” the girl’s friend allegedly told police. Another witness, who was delivering milk to an espresso stand, told investigators the girl crawled out of the broken passenger window of a car and charged the officer. He couldn’t tell if she had anything in her hands.

Lynnwood police detective Brian Jorgensen, the lead investigator, obtained the warrant to search the vehicle the girl was driving. The teen, on the advice of her attorneys, hasn’t been interviewed by investigators.

Her family, however, has posted a statement on social media. The post contradicts some information provided to the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team, the group of detectives from around the county who investigate officer-involved shootings.

They said the girl was sad. “She just wanted to sit in her car and work through her anxiety attack. But the officers broke the window of her car, pulled her through it, tazed then shot her multiple times,” the family wrote in the blog post.

“The police have suggested that she was dangerous or trying to harm them. She was not,” the family wrote. “She was just being a normal kid, having a hard day. She didn’t deserve this. This could have been avoided. This could have been de-escalated. She could have been supported and taken to her home and mother just blocks away. But instead, she was traumatized.”

The girl is a high school student who also is enrolled in community college courses.

The Snohomish County NAACP branch announced earlier this week that the girl’s sister would be speaking at a press conference Saturday. The girl is African-American. The NAACP was contacted by the Seattle Human Rights Commission and asked to assist the girl’s family. Janice Greene, chapter president, has called for an independent review of the case.

“I think police were overly aggressive with a child,” she told The Daily Herald on Tuesday.

The girl’s attorneys also have said that key facts are in dispute.

Police received calls just before 5 a.m. about someone sitting in the middle of N. Olympic Avenue, screaming. The officers arrived a couple of minutes later.

When the sergeant ordered the girl out of the road, she allegedly refused. He told her she could be arrested for disorderly conduct. The girl stood up, began walking toward her car, and told the officers she was going home to cut her wrists, Jorgensen wrote in the search warrant.

The first officer said he intended to detain her for an involuntary commitment based on her statements. The sergeant told investigators he had probable cause to arrest the girl for assaulting her boyfriend.

The girl, they said, got into the driver’s seat of a black Infiniti and locked the doors. The officer told detectives the girl was yelling and rummaging in the center console. She was ordered to show her hands. The officers said she started tapping the blade of a knife on the driver’s window, Jorgensen wrote. The sergeant said the girl held the blade up to her throat.

The officer told detectives he drew his gun. The girl, he said, attempted to open the door but he pushed his weight against it to keep it closed. He asked the sergeant to break out the passenger window and deploy his electronic stun gun. The sergeant busted the window with his baton. Both officers told investigators the girl lunged at the sergeant with the knife through the broken window, according to the search warrant.

The sergeant said the girl then crawled through the window and faced him. He used his stun gun with no effect. He tried again. The sergeant said the girl advanced toward him as he retreated.

The teen, he said, was about 15 feet from him when she raised the knife above her head. He opened fire.

The other officer told investigators the sergeant ordered the girl multiple times to drop the knife. He said he believed the sergeant was in imminent danger so he, too, fired at the girl.

She stumbled to the ground. Both officers began rendering aid.

“Why did you do this?” the sergeant reported asking the girl.

He told detectives the girl said, “Because I wanted to die.”

Police were told the girl and her boyfriend had gone to a friend’s house earlier in the night. They were drinking alcohol and the boyfriend allegedly told police the girl passed out. He woke her up and they drove off. He said she accused him of cheating on her and struck him. He allegedly told police the girl threatened to harm herself.

The couple met up with a friend downtown. The friend told police the girl got into his car and that’s when he noticed her injured hand. She allegedly told him she had punched a window. He tore a sleeve from his shirt for a makeshift bandage.

Officers recovered a folding knife with a 3-inch blade at the scene, according to the search warrant. They also recovered the torn sleeve. Genetic evidence found on the knife’s handle matched DNA recovered from the blood on the torn sleeve, Jorgensen wrote. The search warrant doesn’t say if the DNA has been compared to the girl’s.

The girl’s friend allegedly told police the teen was distraught and “bawling.” He believed she had been drinking. She had handed him a half-empty bottle of vodka.

Both young men told police they tried to get the girl out of the road.

The girl’s friend alleged that she was pulling out the probes from the Taser when shots were fired. He reportedly started yelling at the officers and at passing motorists to record what was happening on their phones.

The case remains under investigation and eventually will be forwarded to Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe. He will decide if the shooting was legally justifiable. The officers have since returned to work.

Meanwhile, nearly $15,000 has been raised for the girl online. The family said the money will be used for renting a safe house, medical bills and transportation to health care services. Anything left over will be used for the girl’s college fund, according to the website.

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