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Inquest Into Aaron Roberts' Death Comes to an End

Sam Eaton
10/12/2001

The inquest into the shooting death of Aaron Roberts, a black man, by two white seattle police officers, came to a decisive end yesterday (Thur). The jurors sided with the officers nearly unanimously. But as KUOW’s Sam Eaton reports, the favorable outcome for the police failed to spark the usual protests that have marred this case since its beginning.

THE ABSENCE OF AARON ROBERT’S FAMILY YESTERDAY FOR THE DELIVERY OF THE JURY’S FINDINGS WAS STARKLY APPARENT AFTER THEIR DAILY PRESENCE DURING THIS LONG AND EMOTIONAL INQUEST. THE FAMILY’S ATTORNEY, DOUG WILSON, WOULDN’T SPECULATE ON WHY THEY CHOSE TO STAY HOME, BUT HE DID SAY THE INQUEST FAILED TO ASK A CRUCIAL QUESTION, ONE ROBERT’S FAMILY CLAIMED HAD STACKED THE CASE AGAINST THEM. I wish that there had been one question about was the investigation fair and full, but that’s, you know, you don’t always get what you ask for. THE TWO POLICE OFFICERS INVOLVED IN THE SHOOTING WERE PRESENT. THEIR ATTORNEY, TED BUCK, SAYS THEIR PLANS NOW THAT THE INQUEST IS OVER ARE STILL UNCERTAIN, BUT FOR THE DAY AT LEAST, THEY FELT ABSOLVED. These are officers that are nominated by this community as community ambassadors for the good work they do in this community, and they’ve been called murderers and racists and now they’ve had their vindication. They feel like now, finally, people have got a chance to see what really happened, to see that they were out there, doing their jobs like they do day in and day out. WHILE THE JURY WASN’T ASKED WHETHER THE SHOOTING ITSELF WAS JUSTIFIED, THEY DID AGREE UNANIMOUSLY THAT OFFICER PRICE, THE SHOOTER, WAS IN FEAR OF GREAT BODILY HARM TO HIMSELF OR HIS PARTNER WHEN THE CAR WAS MOVING AND WHEN HE PULLED HIS GUN. THOSE QUESTIONS ARE CRITICAL NOW AS THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR DECIDES WHETHER TO FILE CHARGES AGAINST THE OFFICERS. MIKE LANG WITH THE PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE… Well those really do go to the decisions that the officers made, the life or death decisions that they made, so I do think they’re critical in terms of the way we will review the case. THE PROSECUTOR IS EXPECTED TO RELEASE HIS DECISION NEXT FRIDAY. BUT WHAT WAS PERHAPS MOST STRIKING ABOUT THE CASE’S OUTCOME, WAS THE SILENCE FROM THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY. BEFORE THE RULING, ROBERT’S SHOOTING LAST MAY HAD SPARKED TENSE RALLY’S AND PROTESTS, INCLUDING ONE WHERE MAYOR SCHELL WAS HIT IN THE FACE WITH A BULLHORN. BUT YESTERDAY THE CORNER OF 23RD AND UNION, WHERE THE SHOOTING TOOK PLACE, WAS QUIET. A BARBER SHOP CALLED EARL’S CUT AND STYLE SITS NEAR THAT SPOT. INSIDE SEVERAL MEN ARE GETTING HAIRCUTS AND WATCHING THE MARINERS GAME. THEY ALL SAY THE INQUEST’S FINDINGS WERE A MAJOR BLOW IN A NEIGHBORHOOD WHERE POLICE RELATIONS ARE ALREADY STRAINED. WHILE NONE WOULD GIVE THEIR NAMES FOR FEAR OF POLICE HARRASSMENT, ONE MAN SAYS THE RESULTS OF THE INQUEST JUST REAFFIRMS WHAT THEY’VE KNOWN ALL ALONG… THAT THEIR WORDS DON’T COUNT. No I’m not surprised, it’s kind of hit home. It’s like hey, whatever we do, it’s not going to do anything, the badge is always going to be the shield, that’s it. HE SAYS A RALLY ISN’T GOING TO DO MUCH TO CHANGE THAT. SAM EATON, KUOW, 94.9, PUBLIC RADIO.

01.17.18

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