Snoqualmie police shooting investigation forwarded to King County Executive’s Office

Officer James Aquirre fatally shot a 33-year-old homeless man in Torguson Park in 2021.

The King County Prosecutor’s Office has finished its review of an investigation into a Snoqualmie officer-involved shooting, and is in the process of recommending it to the King County Executive’s Office for an inquest.

The inquest recommendation follows a two-month investigation into Snoqualmie Police Officer James Aquirre, who fatally shot a 33-year-old homeless man — later identified by the county medical examiner as Cody Rebischke — in Torguson Park on Nov. 16, 2021.

That investigation was carried out by the King County Independent Force Investigation Team (IFIT), an independent body comprised of investigators from 13 local law enforcement agencies in King County designed to investigate use-of-force incidents.

That investigation wrapped up at the end of January, and was forwarded to the King County Prosecutor’s Office.

After a death occurs at the hands of law enforcement in King County, the county prosecutor’s office makes a recommendation to the county executive whether an inquest should be held.

An inquest, similar to a trial, is an administrative fact-finding inquiry, including witness testimony, into the circumstances of police deaths. At the conclusion of the inquest, a panel of four to six individuals are asked a series of questions, including whether the officer complied with their training and department policy.

Inquests are an investigation tool designed to create a transparent review of deaths caused by law enforcement. They are not used to make determinations about liability or punishment.

The inquest program in King County resumed again this March, after a five-year hiatus following lawsuits from several county law enforcement agencies.

Those lawsuits came after King County Executive Dow Constantine made changes to the inquest process in 2018 over concerns that the old process favored police. Those lawsuits were later rejected by the State Supreme Court and inquests resumed this year.

The county held its first inquest after the delay over the 2017 shooting of 19-year-old Damarius Butts, of Kent, by four Seattle Police Department officers. Inquest panelists unanimously ruled Seattle police were justifiable in their use of force.

The county currently has six inquests on its calendar, all of which are for shootings that took place five years ago.

At the time of the November shooting in North Bend, Aquirre had been with Snoqualmie Police Department for five months. He previously spent three years at the Clarkston Police Department and began his law enforcement career with the Blaine Police Department in 2013.

An IFIT spokesperson said in November that Aquirre had no disciplinary record.

The Valley Record has reached out to the City of Snoqualmie to ask if Aquirre has returned to work at the department since the incident.

During these shootings, investigators said Aquirre was on patrol when he noticed a car in the parking lot of Torguson Park, and investigated the situation because the park was closed.

Investigators said Aquirre approached Rebischke, who is believed to have been homeless and living in his car, and asked him to leave the park. When he refused, the two allegedly got into an altercation, where Rebischke allegedly reached for the officer’s gun, according to investigators. Aquirre then regained control of the weapon and fired one round, investigators said.