On Monday, prosecutors from the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in Washington announced that officers will not be charged in the police shooting death of Kevin Peterson Jr.
Peterson was shot and killed by police in an undercover drug bust last October. According to ABC News, he allegedly fled from his car on foot. During the chase, police say he dropped his weapon and retrieved it when police told him to leave it on the ground. Police say he then pointed it at them.
Prosecutors have decided not to charge the officers because according to one prosecutor’s analysis, “the law doesn’t require police to wait for someone to fire at them before they can act in self- defense. She said officers needed only to believe the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious injury.”
However, the family, through their attorney Mark Lindquist, have called the conclusion unfair and believe it is missing the essential details of the case. Lindquist points out that Deputy Robert Anderson, one of the officers who shot at Peterson, told investigators that he was tired of chasing Peterson and thought he had given enough commands before he shot him.
Lindquist called out the police’s version of events. Here’s his statement, according to ABC News:
Lindquist also said it’s unclear what Peterson pointed at deputies. At one point while he was running, he was on his cellphone with his partner, Olivia Selto. She said he had pointed his phone at deputies to show her he was being pursued.
The police investigation of the shooting included an interview with an unidentified witness who told investigators she saw a Black man walk toward a police car while holding up a cellphone like he was recording or livestreaming. She said she saw the man run from police with what she thought was a cellphone in one hand and a weapon in the other.
Lindquist said it wasn’t until after Peterson was shot that he raised his arm, while on the ground.
According to the Oregonian, the officers believed that Peterson had threatened violence towards the police on his social media with the use of emojis. Police were investigating him for selling Xanax, the prescription anxiety medication.
Anderson and Deputies Jonathan Feller and Jeremy Brown fired a total of 34 rounds, striking Peterson four times, investigators said. An autopsy by the Clark County Medical Examiner found Peterson had been shot twice in the chest and in his shoulder and arm.
The officers admitted that they were shooting so frantically that they thought Peterson was shooting back so they kept firing. Investigators say Peterson never fired his gun.
After the protests that followed the shooting in Clark County, a county judge made headlines when he was caught calling Peterson and his father dumb and saying that people were trying to make an angel out him. He later announced his retirement. Before the conclusion of the case, one of the officers, Jeremy Brown, died last month after he was shot to death in an unmarked vehicle while doing surveillance for another case.
Monday’s announcement came just after prosecutors concluded last month that shooting another Black man, Jenoah Donald, who was unarmed, at a traffic stop was justified. The Peterson family has filed a $17 million wrongful death lawsuit against Clark County.