Sheriff says man ‘tragically killed’ by deputies near Hazel Dell

Clark County

Shooting happened Thursday in the 6800 block of NE Highway 99

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — New information on a Hazel Dell shooting that involved Clark County Sheriff’s deputies and resulted in the death of a 21-year-old Black man was released on Friday, first in a press conference from Sheriff Chuck Akins and later by Battle Ground authorities.

In a 3 p.m. press conference, Akins gave “a formal statement” on a shooting that deputies were involved in Thursday night near Hazel Dell and did not take questions from the media.

The shooting happened just before 6 p.m. on Oct 29, near the 6800 block of NE Highway 99. The sheriff said detectives with the Clark-Vancouver Drug Task Force were “conducting a narcotics investigation when a foot pursuit ensued where deputies from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office were chasing a man with a firearm.”

“The information that I have is that upon entering the parking lot of the bank, the man reportedly fired his weapon at the deputies. The deputies returned fire and the subject was tragically killed. It is my understanding that the man’s firearm was observed at the scene,” said Akins.

Akins did not name the man who was shot and killed, but acknowledged that the family has identified him as Kevin E. Peterson Jr.

Later that same evening, the Battle Ground Chief of Police Mike Fort confirmed the identity of the man who was killed. In that Friday evening update, Fort also disclosed that the drug task force suspected Peterson of selling drugs in the parking lot of the Quality Inn motel. He was in his car when police first approached and then he ran on foot, according to the release.

In the “summary of events,” authorities said, during the chase, Peterson pulled out a gun and officers “backed off.” A short time later, Peterson encountered three sheriff’s deputies, and that’s when the shooting happened. All three deputies fired their guns.

“During the crime scene investigation, a Glock model 23, 40 caliber pistol was found near the deceased by independent crime scene investigators,” the release stated.

All of the involved deputies have been placed on administrative leave while the investigation is conducted.

Kevin Peterson Jr. in an undated photo from about 2018 (Courtesy: Jake Thompson)

Earlier Friday, the NAACP of Vancouver posted that Kevin Peterson Jr. was killed. The NAACP said a vigil was planned for the 21-year-old at 7 p.m. Friday at the US Bank branch at 6829 NE Hwy 99 in Vancouver.

“It’s important to relate that the loss of a young man’s life likely means there is a grieving father, mother and other family. It is right and correct that the community would grieve along with this family,” said Akins.

The sheriff went on to say that while he has not spoken with the deputies involved in the shooting he was “that they are upset at the unfortunate outcome of this encounter,” and that their agency, as well as the community, was grieving.

The Southwest Washington Independent Investigative Response Team is investigating this shooting.

Read Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins’ full statement:

“I have a statement, and a commitment, that I want to make to the community and to the family of a young man who lost his life last night.

I will start by telling you that there is a lot about this situation that I don’t know. Under I-940 and the state law requirements of an independent investigation, all of which I support – it is not my investigation and that means I am waiting along with you to learn about much of the details. Here is what I do know:

Just before 6PM on last night, detectives from the Clark/Vancouver Drug Task Force were conducting a narcotics investigation in the 6800 block of NE Hwy 99. A foot pursuit ensued where deputies from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office were chasing a man with a firearm. The information I have is that upon entering the parking lot of a bank, the man reportedly fired his weapon at the deputies. The deputies returned fire and the subject was tragically killed. It is my understanding that the man’s firearm was observed at the scene.

The press is reporting that the family has identified the young man involved as Kevin E. Peterson, Jr. It’s important to relate that the loss of a young man’s life likely means there is a grieving father, mother and other family. It is right and correct that the community would grieve along with this family. While I have not spoken with the deputies involved in this matter, I am confident that they are upset at the unfortunate outcome of this encounter. I can say that our agency is grieving as is the Peterson family and the community. Washington State independent investigation protocols require the designation of a law enforcement liaison to Mr. Peterson’s family. It is my commitment to participate as much as I can in ensuring that there is a complete, thorough independent determination of what happened, how it happened and what can be learned from this incident. I believe that it is important that the family be kept updated as much as absolutely possible.

As the community grieves, I call for there to be a respectful and dignified observance of the loss of life in this matter. There is always the potential for misinformation, doubt and confusion – and there may be those who wish to sow seeds of doubt. I insist that we will ALL learn in time what was lawful and/or unlawful, what was proper and/or improper and what we as an agency and community can learn from this matter.

I am committed to the accountability and transparency expected of this community and by state law and stand prepared to do my part as Sheriff in seeing that done. That said, this matter was turned over to the Southwest Washington Independent Investigation Team last night and is being led by the Camas Police Department for this incident.

Battle Ground Police Chief Mike Fort will be putting out further news releases regarding details of the investigation. No further information is being released now, and I am not taking any questions at this time.”

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