The 33-year-old man who was killed by a Snoqualmie police officer late Nov. 16 was homeless and living in his car, according to a spokesperson with the independent investigations team.
Bellevue Police Major Debbie Christopherson, who is part of the Independent Force Investigation Team (IFIT) for King County, provided more details about the first officer-involved shooting in Snoqualmie Police Department history during a press briefing Nov. 17.
The shooting occurred at 11:15 p.m. Nov. 16 at Torguson Park in North Bend. Snoqualmie officer James Aquirre was on routine patrol when he passed the park and noticed a car in the lot, Christopherson said.
She said that because it was after hours, Aquirre investigated the situation and found a 33-year-old man outside of his car. Acquire allegedly asked the man to leave. The man refused, leading to a physical altercation.
Aquirre was allegedly knocked to the ground, sustaining a slight arm injury, and the man reached for the officer’s weapon, according to the investigations team. Aquirre then regained control of the weapon and fired one round, killing the man, according to the investigations team. Aquirre was placed on leave.
Christopherson said the man had been sleeping in his car and was not from North Bend. She said it appears the man had been in the area for a while, but had been traveling through several states.
The man is not believed to have had any previous interactions with Snoqualmie police, nor does he have a criminal record, Christopherson said. The name of the deceased man was not released as of press time.
Aquirre has been with the Snoqualmie Police Department for the last five months. Before that, he worked three years at the Clarkston Police Department. Aquirre was born in Seattle and raised in Blaine. He graduated from Blaine High School and started his law enforcement career at the Blaine Police Department in 2013. He has no disciplinary record.
There is no camera footage of the event because Snoqualmie police do not wear body cameras. There is, however, footage after the event from responding county sheriff officers’ body cameras.
Initial reports said the officer approached a group of people in the park, but through additional investigation, this was found to be untrue.
The investigation will continue through the IFIT.
The IFIT was created in response to state legislation that went into effect at the beginning of 2021. It requires an independent investigation for officer-involved shootings that result in injury or death. Thirteen local law enforcement agencies belong to IFIT, including the Snoqualmie Police Department.
The Snoqualmie Police Department will not be involved in the investigation because all officials on the team are required to have no relationship with the officer involved.
“The purpose of the [investigation team] is to provide transparency and be independent of the police department involved,” Christopherson said.
It is unclear what de-escalation tactics were used by the officer to prevent the shooting.
“In all my experiences when officers contact people, we have conversations and tell them what we want them to do,” Christopherson said. “De-escalation is very important at this time. Officers need to be doing that. I assume that’s what the officer did.”