HAZEL DELL, WA (KPTV) - Three deputies said Kevin Peterson Jr. posed a “lethal threat” before they fired 34 rounds at him, hitting him with four shots, in a deadly shooting in Hazel Dell last month.
The city of Battle Ground released an update on the investigation Wednesday morning on behalf of the Southwest Washington Independent Investigative Response Team. Attorneys for Peterson’s family then also released a statement Wednesday.
Investigators previously outlined details of their investigation Nov. 10.
Peterson was shot and killed by deputies after running from Clark County Regional Drug Task Force officers who were attempting to arrest him for selling Xanax on the 6800 block of Northeast Highway 99 on the night of Oct. 29.
The day after the shooting, Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins stated Peterson “reportedly fired his weapon at the deputies.” Court documents stated, per police radio traffic, that Peterson was believed to have fired two rounds from his gun toward officers in a U.S. Bank parking lot.
The Nov. 10 report stated, “Detectives do not have evidence that Peterson fired the handgun while in the U.S. Bank lot.” A .40 caliber semiautomatic handgun was found near Peterson’s body, but investigators said no .40 caliber casings were recovered.
‘Two volleys’ of law enforcement gunfire
Per Wednesday’s update, the involved deputies told the investigative team that Peterson pointed his gun at them as he ran away, but that wasn’t shown in the surveillance video released by investigators, and it wasn’t clear from the law enforcement report whether the first deputy fired at Peterson before Peterson pointed a gun at them.
Peterson had previously dropped the handgun while running away, and was ordered not to pick it up, according to investigators, and was subsequently ordered to drop the weapon, but the deputies said he grabbed the gun and continued to run.
“All three deputies stated that before firing their weapons, they believed that Peterson Jr. posed a lethal threat to either themselves or other responding officers,” according to the report.
The deputies fired 34 rounds and shot Peterson four times. The deputies said Peterson aimed his gun at them while gunshots were going off around them, and they believed Peterson had fired at them.
Wednesday’s report states: “There were two volleys of gunfire in this incident – the first occurred when Peterson Jr reportedly ignored commands, pulled his handgun out of his sweatshirt pocket and then ran towards the containment officers. Peterson Jr then reportedly pointed his handgun at the deputies. The second volley occurred after Peterson fell, then sat up and reportedly pointed the firearm at deputies again. Shortly after the shooting, one of the involved deputies advised via radio that he thought Peterson may have fired ‘a couple’ shots in their direction.”
Law firm response
Herrmann Law Group is representing Peterson’s parents and the mother of his child. The firm released a statement Wednesday from Peterson's father saying Peterson was shot in the back, and deputies “Chased him down, trapped him, and killed him.”
“Many questions remain unanswered. U.S. Bank surveillance video released by the investigative team was edited. The team admits, ‘video timestamps are not fully accurate’,” according to the Hermann Law Group, which is conducting an independent investigation of the shooting.
Investigators said the involved deputies do not have body cameras or vehicle cameras. The law enforcement video timeline of events was created using surveillance video from businesses in the area, drone video and dispatch audio recordings, as well as information from interviews with deputies and witnesses.
Warning graphic content: Law enforcement timeline video of deadly shooting
Detectives said prior to the initial contact from the Drug Task Force, Peterson shared a post on social media “that indicated violence toward law enforcement.”
Mark Lindquist, an attorney with Hermann Law Group, said witnesses are encouraged to contact the independent investigator hired by the law firm at 360-772-2415.
The Hermann Law Group's statement also says, "Where's the apology from the Sheriff for the false accusation claiming Kevin shot at officers? Now they are saying Kevin pointed a gun at officers, but the video doesn't show that. Instead, the video shows that Kevin was no threat. This raises a question of police protecting their own.”
Detectives said their completed law enforcement investigation will be forwarded to the prosecuting attorney for review. Additional reports, including lab results and the medical examiner’s report, are pending.
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