Fwd: Seattle Police Murder Homeless Man

Danielle Ni Dhighe nidhighe at irsm.org
Wed Feb 20 20:06:36 MST 2002

Another racist police atrocity (an extreme case of what we see all
the time in our neighborhoods), and this time there were at least
three witnesses.

Still, they will try to weasel their way out of it, and try to kick
up a storm of racism in the process (the same issue of the Post
carried a big article denouncing the homeless and poor, calling the
Pike-Pine corridor a "black triangle" in their wished-for dreamland
of gentrification).  Please contact us (saia at struggle.net) if you
want to organize protests against this outrage, or if you know of any
meetings being planned to do so.  This is an urgent necessity for the
progressive movement.

Down with the murderous cops!

Jeff, Seattle Anti-Imperialist Alliance


Seattle Post-Intelligencer
20 February 2002

Police defend shooting, but witnesses dispute necessity
By Lewis Kamb

Police say the two police officers who fatally shot a man armed with
a small sword in the back yard of a University District house Monday
afternoon had no choice but to open fire.

But several residents who say they watched the confrontation unfold
on their street said police gunned down a man who posed no immediate

King County medical examiners today identified the man as Shawn Jerel
Maxwell, 31.

Authorities yesterday said Maxwell held the 19-inch blade --
described by police variously as a machete and a sword -- above his
head and advanced toward an officer in the closed confines of a
fenced-off yard along Seventh Avenue Northeast, forcing officers to
make a split-second decision.

"It was only after he raised his sword above his head and advanced
toward the officer ... (that) officers used fatal force," Seattle
Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said yesterday.

However, at least three people who say they witnessed the incident
contradicted the police version.

"He didn't make any sudden movements, and whatever he was holding was
down at his side when they shot him," said 19-year-old Jamie
Hamilton, who watched the confrontation from her porch across the
street with her housemates. "It was just so disturbing and seemed so

Police provided only sketchy details about Maxwell: He was African
American, originally from Georgia and had an arrest record.

Sunday, Deputy Chief John Diaz said, patrol officers made "a minor
contact" with Maxwell in the city's North End, when residents
complained that he apparently had been sleeping in his car. Officers
gave him some information about shelters, and he went on his way.

Maxwell's next encounter with police ended with four bullet holes in
his chest and stomach.

At least two of those gunshot wounds came after Maxwell already had
been hit and was lying on the ground, police officials said. They say
Maxwell was still a threat, and that an officer shot him as he was
grabbing for his sword.

But some witnesses disputed that yesterday, saying Maxwell only
appeared to be trying to sit up.

Joel Voss, who said he watched the shooting from his front porch
across the street, said, "I didn't see him grab at anything."

During a news conference at police headquarters yesterday, officials
gave this account of what happened:

Just after 2 p.m., patrol officers spotted Maxwell in his Subaru
making an illegal turn onto 12th Avenue Northeast from Northeast 47th
Street. After police stopped the car in midblock on 12th Avenue
Northeast and approached it, Maxwell took off -- speeding north to
Northeast 50th Street, where he turned west.

Maxwell then turned onto Seventh Avenue, where he abandoned the car
just past a freeway onramp, and ran east toward nearby homes.

During the five- to six-minute foot chase that ensued, police lost
sight of Maxwell several times, and noticed he was carrying a small

At one point, Maxwell apparently tried to approach the entrance of
one house, Capt. Brent Wingstrand said.

Kerlikowske said that in at least two instances, when officers
ordered Maxwell to drop the weapon, he indicated he wanted them to
shoot him.

Finally, police saw the man heading behind a house at 5055 Seventh
Ave. N.E.

Police said five or six officers climbed over a short fence and
confronted Maxwell . Six-year veteran Brett Rogers fired a Taser at
him, but it fail to immobilize him. That's when, police say, Maxwell
lifted the weapon over his head, and advanced toward Rogers.

Rogers fired two shots, striking Maxwell in the torso and knocking
him to the ground. At about the same time Rogers fired, another
officer shot a second Taser, which began shocking Maxwell as he was
lying in the yard, Wingstrand said.

But Maxwell, still not subdued, grabbed at his sword and tried to get
up, police say. When he did, Officer Stan Streubel, on the force for
about a year and a half, fired as many as three more shots, striking
Maxwell at least twice.

Both officers have been placed on standard leave. Kerlikowske
yesterday defended the officers' actions, saying they tried several
times to get Maxwell to surrender.

"The officers had an absolute duty to protect the people in that
neighborhood and themselves."

But both Voss and Hamilton said separately yesterday that Maxwell was
not brandishing his weapon. "The man was completely stationary when
they shot him," Voss said.


Email letters of protest to:
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels
<mailto:Mayors.Office at ci.seattle.wa.us>Mayors.Office at ci.seattle.wa.<mailto:Mayors.Office at ci.seattle.wa.us>us

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