An inquest has been ordered into the fatal March 22 shooting by Bellevue police in Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood.
Russell Smith was shot inside a car by members of a Bellevue police SWAT team who were moving in to serve a search warrant on a home on 43rd Avenue South near South Hudson Street. Police say when he was ordered to surrender, Smith put the car into reverse, slammed into a parked truck, and drove directly at officers.
Three Bellevue SWAT officers opened fire on Smith, killing him.
Seattle police, who investigated the shooting, later identified Smith as a suspected robber who was attempting to run down officers with his car. They said the shooting took place at his brother’s home.
Bellevue police spokeswoman Carla Iafrate said SWAT officers were attempting to serve warrants on the suspect’s residence and vehicle in connection with a series of robberies in Bellevue and other jurisdictions.
King County Executive Dow Constantine ordered the inquest on a recommendation by Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, whose office reviewed investigative materials from the Seattle Police Department.
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 any law enforcement agency within King County while in the performance of his or her duties.
Some residents of the neighborhood complained about the shooting, saying officers didn’t alert them to the operation. Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo later told a community meeting that officers didn’t want the search warrant action to end as it did.