PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in Washington state has announced it is declining to charge Clark County deputies who shot and killed a Black man during a drug sting last October.
The shooting death of Kevin Peterson Jr. was determined to be “justified and lawful,” according to a letter from the Pierce County prosecutor released Monday.
The 21-year-old Vancouver man was shot and killed last year by two Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputies after running from police during a drug bust. One of those deputies was Jeremy Brown, who was killed in the line of duty in July.
The prosecutor said there was no legal requirement for the officers to wait until Peterson opened fire, and that given the facts of the case, it was reasonable for officers to believe deadly force was necessary.
Peterson’s family and their attorney also released statements on Monday following the decision.
“We are shocked an officer gets to shoot Kevin in the back because he’s tired of chasing him. And now the two officers who shot Kevin while he was running are both back at work,” the family’s statement read. “This is unfair and unsafe for everyone in the community.”
“Our laws do not allow an officer to shoot a suspect for running away,” family attorney Mark Lindquist said in a statement. “In his own interview, Deputy Anderson admits he shot Kevin because he wasn’t obeying commands and wouldn’t stop running. The deputy says, ‘I kinda just drew the line in the sand … I’ve given suspect enough commands. If he takes another step, I’m gonna shoot him.'”
In a statement, Clark County Undersheriff John Chapman said, “Incidents such as this are very difficult on everyone. The loss of life is tragic for all the parties involved. Although some may have expected or wished for a different outcome, we have placed our trust in the independent investigation protocols as put in place by the State of Washington. “
A civil suit filed by the family is still ongoing.
KOIN 6 News has reached out to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office for comment.