Seattle Police Chief Calls Officer-Involved Shooting An 'Extreme Tragedy'
Seattle Police Chief John Diaz told reporters that he offers his condolences to Henry Lee's family.
Diaz: "I've been in this profession for a very long time. I've seen people at their best and I've seen them at their worst, I've seen some great hope and I've seen tragedy. And this particular case this was a case of extreme tragedy."
Seattle Police say the department will conduct an internal investigation with the department's Firearms Review Board. The department is also gathering information for an eventual inquest.
Police say the events that unfolded in South Seattle Sunday night began with the report of an abandoned vehicle left on the street running with its door open near Lee's home.
They say officers couldn't find the car's owner, but they later learned that he was having some kind of medical emergency. The man eventually returned to his car. An officer noticed he was only wearing one shoe. Someone called 911 for medical help.
Paramedics from the Fire Department came to his aid. At the same time Deputy Chief Nick Metz says Henry Lee used his medical alert device to call in a suspected prowler.
Metz: "He did tell the medical alert system who told our 911 center that he had a gun and if anyone tried to come into his home he would kill them."
Metz says the 911 center informed the relay operator to tell Lee to put the gun away.
Metz says Lee refused.
Three officers arrived at Lee's home. Metz says from the sidewalk they could see Lee. They knew he was armed. They told him to show his hands. Police say Lee raised his gun lowered it, then raised it again.
Metz says Officer Daina Boggs fired two rounds at Lee and Officer Nathan Patterson fired one round.
Metz: "I don't think anybody believes there was any evil intent on Mr. Lee's part. He was scared, he was confused, he obviously thought there was some kind of danger to himself. But unfortunately he ended up creating a danger to our officers at the time."
Lee was shot once. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Metz says officers had no information about Lee's mental or medical health. Family members have said in published reports that Lee suffered from dementia. Both officers have been reassigned.
During the investigation. Metz noted that the shoe missing from the man in distress was later found on Lee's doorstep.
Boggs is a 19–year veteran of SPD. Patterson is a 7–year veteran.
SPD refused to identify the third officer because he didn't shoot.
Police say that officer was the only one of the three who had received Crisis Intervention Training. That's a 40–hour training course where officers learn different techniques for dealing with subjects who have mental disorders.
I'm Patricia Murphy, KUOW News.
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