King County will lead an inquest into the July 5th standoff on Capitol Hill in which police shot and killed an armed, mentally ill man inside his Capitol Hill condominium.
The fact-finding hearing is “routine” in any police shooting, an announcement of the inquest from King County said.
28-year-old Joel Reuter was shot dead by police after an hours-long standoff in which he reportedly eventually opened fire on officers. No police officers were injured by the gunfire. Reuter’s family is now fighting for changes in mental illness laws.
The Seattle Police Department released the names of the two SWAT officers that shot and killed Reuter in the days following the incident. Officers Chad Zentner, 44, and Jeff Geoghagan, 42, were placed on administrative leave following the shooting at Bellevue and Denny Way. According to SPD, Zetner first shot Reuter inside his apartment after he fired a 9mm handgun. After retreating into his room, Reuter returned waving his gun at police when Geoghagan shot him. Reuter died soon after.
The Seattle Times reports that Geohagan was involved in three prior shooting deaths.
In the hours and days following Reuter’s death, a picture of a man suffering from paranoia and mental illness emerged. Friends and neighbors told CHS that Reuter had long suffered mental and physical illnesses. SPD said they were familiar with Reuter after crisis intervention teams were called to his residence on several occasions.
A resident in the building where the incident occurred, who asked to remain anonymous, told CHS that he and other residents in the building started to raise concerns about Reuter’s erratic behavior in April. The man said Reuter’s anger was never directed at individuals, only vague ideas. The man said Reuter had an obsession with emergency broadcast messages and a disdain for certain politicians. “I know that he had a condition and was not in control,” the Marq resident said. “When things were good, he seemed like a normal, genuine guy.”
According to the announcement of the inquest, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg recommended the investigation after reviewing “investigative materials from the Seattle Police Department.”
UPDATE: This post have been updated to more accurately describe the inquest process, above.
Inquest ordered into fatal police shooting of gunman at Capitol Hill condominium
Fact-finding hearing is routine to determine causes and circumstances of any death involving a member of law enforcement while in performance of duties
King County Executive Dow Constantine today ordered an inquest into the fatal shooting of Joel Reuter by Seattle police on July 5, 2013.
Police responding to reports of gunfire in the 100 block of Bellevue Avenue E. found an armed man barricaded inside his condominium and threatening to shoot. After hours of negotiation, police say the gunman fired at SWAT officers covering the building and an officer fired and struck the suspect, who retreated into the unit. Police say the gunman came forward again, still holding the handgun, and was fatally shot by a second SWAT officer.
King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg recommended the inquest after his office reviewed investigative materials from the Seattle Police Department.
Inquests are fact-finding hearings conducted before a six-member jury. Under a standing Executive Order, 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.
Inquests provide transparency into law enforcement actions so the public may have all the facts established in a court of law. The ordering of an inquest should carry no other implication. 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.
The order signed by the Executive requests King County District Court Presiding Judge Corinna Harn to assign a judge to set a date and conduct the inquest.
The ordering of inquests is a function vested in the county executive under the King County Code.