The Seattle Police Department on Thursday released audio recordings of 911 calls and police-radio transmissions preceding the fatal shooting of a man Tuesday evening near Carkeek Park.
Jack Keewatinawin, 21, was shot after police say he brandished an 18-inch piece of rebar at officers who had responded to calls that he had been threatening his father with a knife.
“All of these situations are tragic for everyone involved,” said Seattle Police Chief John Diaz. He said information about the shooting could change pending the investigation by homicide detectives and review by the department’s Firearms Review Board. Diaz, who addressed members of the media along with Deputy Chief Nick Metz and Assistant Chief Jim Pugel during a news conference, said he expects an inquest to be held in the death of Keewatinawin.
In the first of two 911 calls played during the news conference, a male caller is heard telling a dispatcher: “My dad is being killed right now. Please! My brother is schizophrenic and he’s flipping out and he’s got a knife to him.” Asked if there were any other weapons involved, the caller replied: “I don’t know. Probably.” Later, he added, “I’m at my house in Tukwila and my brother called me, flipping out, saying he’s going to kill my dad and it’s all my fault.”
A second 911 call was received by another brother, who told a dispatcher: “My little brother just called me … He thinks I raped his girlfriend and took his money. And my dad, I could hear him in the background, saying, ‘Please stop, please stop.’ He doesn’t have a girlfriend, he doesn’t have money, he’s schizophrenic and he’s very violent. I think he’s got my dad hostage.”
The second brother mentioned that police had been to the house before and that Keewatinawin had a warrant out for his arrest.
Metz said North Precinct night-shift officers, who had just come on duty, were immediately dispatched, but he couldn’t say whether they were told Keewatinawin was schizophrenic.
Audio police provided of the 911 calls can he heard here and here. Audio of SPD radio traffic prior to the incident can be heard here. ( Editor’s note: The first 911 call contains one word of profanity.)
Officers were setting up containment when Keewatinawin came out on the porch and failed to comply with the officers’ orders. An officer who has received crisis-intervention training tried to initiate a dialogues with Keewatinawin, but “the subject was not responding to him,” Metz said.
He went back inside, but then his father came onto the porch and Keewatinawin hid behind the older man “almost like a human shield,” Metz said. The father told officers his son was armed with a knife and a steel pipe, he said. Attempts to talk to Keewatinawin were unsuccessful, he said.
Keewatinawin ran back inside the house. Fearing he might be retrieving another weapon, a sergeant on scene ordered an officer to use a Taser on him, Metz said. But two attempts to Taser Keewatinawin failed because the device’s barbs failed to penetrate his bulky clothing, Metz said.
During the second Taser attempt, as Keewatinawin moved to the front lawn of a house just south of his own, Officer Michael Spaulding slipped on the wet grass and had one leg pinned beneath him, Metz said. He said Keewatinawin came toward the officer with an 18-inch piece of rebar, weighing about one pound, raising it “in an attack-like manner.” Believing his life was in danger, Metz said Spaulding fired a shotgun twice at Keewatinawin. Simultaneously, the two other officers fired their department-issued handguns at Keewatinawin. Eight to nine shots were fired by the three officers, he said.
About 30 seconds elapsed between the time Keewatinawin walked or jogged away from his own residence till the time he was shot, according to Metz, who said a bone-handled knife was later found in a nearby driveway.
Below are photos of a piece of rebar, a knife and another unnamed item police say they recovered from the scene.
During the news conference today, police identified the other two officers who opened fire on Keewatinawin:
— Stephen Sperry, a Seattle police officer since August 2007;
— Tyler Speer, who joined the department in August 2007.
— Spaulding joined the department in May 2008.
All three have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is routine following a shooting.
Police said Sperry has undergone Crisis Intervention Training, which is aimed at educating police about mental illness and the mental-health system. Police said before the shooting they tried to talk with Keewatinawin, but he did not respond.
Keewatinawin was mentally ill, according to neighbors.