With reporting by Renee Raketty
A night for community healing in the Central District after last week’s homicide and deadly police shooting included a candlelight vigil outside the Northwest African American Museum in Jimi Hendrix Park where a crowd gathered to remember the life of 23-year-old Anais Valencia.
But Tuesday night also brought another shock of deadly force by law enforcement in Seattle as police shot and killed a man suffering a crisis and reportedly armed with a knife in an incident on the city’s waterfront.
In the Central District in the hours before the second deadly Seattle Police shooting in the week, thoughts were with Valencia and her family.
“For too long we have accepted violence as normal,” said Rev. Harriet Walden of Mothers for Police Accountability. “I want to send my heartfelt condolences to the family and I hope that this can bring them comfort. … I want to wrap them in love tonight.”
Valencia and her friend were shot February 9th as they sat in a car in the parking lot of the Urban League Village apartments, which is adjacent to the museum. She had been waiting for a friend to grab their laptop inside the building when her car was approached by 45-year-old Gregory Taylor who began shooting into the vehicle. Officers opened fire, shooting and killing Taylor moments later during a confrontation with police.
“I know it is cold but we are all here with love,” said Deaunte Damper of Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County. “When it comes down to it; the violence in this community is tragic. When we look at the history of what has been happening at NAAM — the continuous harassment in this space. We are paying for it now.”
Residents of the Village Apartments have reported previous concerns about Taylor, who does maintenance and was a resident. The project was developed by the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle but Coast Property Management runs the apartments.
“I want to send a lot of love and appreciation for everyone affected directly; as well as to our community — especially our elders who are braving this weather to stand up for peace. They want to stand up for what is right,” said Walden’s son, Omari Salisbury of Converge Media. “This is a struggle for the local community on the ground to be able to change the narrative. I think it was important to change that narrivative — to amplify a sense of humanity… It allows for the humanity, dignity and integrity for the family who suffers.”
Valencia was a resident of Federal Way and and a 2015 Decatur High School graduate.
Seattle Police says the investigation of the use of deadly force in the killing of the Black suspect has been handed over to the Office of Police Accountability and referred any additional questions about the incident to that office.
Typically the department places officers involved in this type of investigation on leave and identify those involved. SPD has yet to release the names of any officers involved in the February 9th shooting and could not confirm Wednesday how many officers were on leave pending the investigation.
Another investigation will now begin following Tuesday night’s second deadly police shooting in a week.
Police say they were responding to reports of a man armed with a knife and reportedly trying to harm himself during a mental crisis around 9:20 PM on Alaskan Way and Seneca Street when officers opened fire and killed the man. “Police approached the man and attempted to use a less lethal tool, but the device was ineffective,” police said.
The man killed by police in the waterfront confrontation was reported to be white.
Two officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave pending the investigation.
A “Stand Up, Fight Back” protest against police is planned to march from Westlake Park at 7 PM Wednesday.
UPDATE 2/19/2021: Thursday, SPD released the names of the officers involved in the shooting as Officer Eli Juarez, hired in 2018, Officer Timothy Meyer hired in 2017, Officer Nam Nguyen, hired in 2009, Officer Landon Steiger, hired in 2009, Officer Preston Turk, hired in 2016, and Officer Joshua Vaaga, hired in 2016.
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