King County Executive Dow Constantine today ordered an inquest into the fatal shooting by Seattle police of a 21-year-old man on Feb. 26.
Jack Sun Keewatinawin was shot after police responded to calls from his two brothers who said Keewatinawin was holding their father hostage with a knife at a home in the 10100 block of Fourth Avenue Northwest. In a confrontation with responding officers, Keewatinawin brandished a piece of rebar and approached an officer who had slipped on wet ground, police said.
Three officers fired, killing Keewatinawin.
King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg recommended the inquest after his office reviewed materials from the Seattle Police Department, which conducted the investigation.
Inquests are fact-finding hearings conducted before a six-member jury. They are routinely called to determine the causes and circumstances of any death involving a member of King County law enforcement agencies.
Inquest jurors answer a series of interrogatories to determine the significant factual issues involved in the case, and it is not their purpose to determine whether any person or agency is civilly or criminally liable.
Before summoning police, Keewatinawin’s brothers, Montano Rojo Northwind Sr. and Hawk Firstrider, each called 911 after they received disturbing phone calls from their mentally ill brother. They said he raged about an imagined attack and stolen money.
Keewatinawin was with their father at his North Seattle duplex, phoning threats to his brothers, who were at their respective homes.
Northwind and Firstrider later learned that their brother was not holding their father hostage or threatening him. In fact, their father, Henry Northwind, said he did not feel he was in danger though Keewatinawin was pacing “fast and hard, jumping up and down and stomping on the ground.”
Seattle police said two attempts to use a Taser on Keewatinawin, who was wearing bulky clothing, failed to connect the barbs to his skin.
Henry Northwind later questioned whether his son had threatened an officer with a piece of rebar.
Keewatinawin was convicted of attacking a woman at Carkeek Park in October 2011. A warrant had been issued for his arrest on Jan. 28 after he failed to report to his Department of Corrections community corrections officer and his treatment provider.