ARLINGTON – The community has been showing support for Arlington police this week after two officers shot a knife-carrying 17-year-old girl early Valentine’s Day.
The girl’s condition has been upgraded from critical to serious at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Police supporters Wednesday spent a second evening in front of City Hall with signs and balloons to reinforce their appreciation for officers. The group wanted to show strength in numbers after three people, a family friend of the girl and two others, stood near the police station seeking justice for the girl the day of the shooting.
“I’m here because I want to support my police department,” organizer Amanda Aldrich said. She added the protestors “don’t know the whole story” yet, as the investigation is ongoing.
Nikki Plum and her children said they stand behind law enforcement and want to lend their support to “back the blue.” Many others showed their support with comments on the Arlington Community Crime Page online.
“Without those guys there would be chaos in the streets,” said Plum, a member of the American Patriot Party, a group that seeks to support police and fire personnel in emergency situations. The group is conducting a teddy bear drive for the department.
The mayor’s office issued a statement Thursday encouraging residents to be supportive of each other and keep everyone involved in the incident in their thoughts.
“Our Arlington police officers put their lives at risk every day to protect and serve the community, and they are trained in de-escalation tactics, including the use of Tasers,” Mayor Barb Tolbert stated. “We take these incidents very seriously and will continue to share updates as they become available.”
The incident occurred about 5 a.m. when two officers responded to a disturbance in the 500 block of N. Olympic Avenue. The disturbance involved a woman in distress after a reported altercation with her 18-year-old boyfriend. She was lying on the street and screaming, said Aaron Snell, an Everett police officer and spokesman for the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team. Evidence indicates a physical assault occurred between the girl and her boyfriend prior to the 9-1-1 call, Snell said.
After officers separated the couple, the girl ran to a nearby black car in a business parking lot, Snell said. The officers followed and told her to step out of the car. Witnesses indicated she exited the vehicle and advanced on officers, who tried unsuccessfully to stop her with a Taser, Snell said.
Officers advised dispatch she had a knife, that shots were fired and requested aid, Snell said. A knife was recovered at the scene. Aid units treated the girl before she was airlifted to Harborview, Snell said.
Specifics regarding contact and communication between the involved officers and the girl are still under investigation as detectives piece together how circumstances escalated to police shooting her. It isn’t yet known how many shots were fired, and how many hit the girl, Snell said.
Detectives until midday searched Tuesday the parking lot for evidence at N. Olympic and Division where the shooting happened, Snell said. They were also still trying to determine whether one or two vehicles in the lot had any connection to the altercation. N. Olympic from Division Street to E. 5th Avenue was closed for the investigation, and reopened around noon Tuesday.
The car has been impounded and detectives are processing it for evidence after a search warrant is received.
Both officers have been placed on administrative leave as is standard procedure. One officer is a 12-year veteran in the department, and the other has been with the agency for two years.
SMART detectives have interviewed the boyfriend and multiple witnesses, and will interview the officers to piece together what happened. SMART is a team of detectives from various Snohomish County law enforcement agencies who respond to and investigate all officer-involved shootings and use-of-force incidents.
Snell said the investigation is ongoing, and detectives are looking for other witnesses, video footage or anyone with additional information. If you witnessed the incident or have information call the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office tipline at 425-388-3845.